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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2610. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3610.

Wnt secretion is required to maintain high levels of Wnt activity in colon cancer cells.

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1] German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Div. Signalling and Functional Genomics, and Heidelberg University, Dept. Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine Mannheim, Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany [2].


Aberrant regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway has an important role during the onset and progression of colorectal cancer, with over 90% of cases of sporadic colon cancer featuring mutations in APC or β-catenin. However, it has remained a point of controversy whether these mutations are sufficient to activate the pathway or require additional upstream signals. Here we show that colorectal tumours express elevated levels of Wnt3 and Evi/Wls/GPR177. We found that in colon cancer cells, even in the presence of mutations in APC or β-catenin, downstream signalling remains responsive to Wnt ligands and receptor proximal signalling. Furthermore, we demonstrate that truncated APC proteins bind β-catenin and key components of the destruction complex. These results indicate that cells with mutations in APC or β-catenin depend on Wnt ligands and their secretion for a sufficient level of β-catenin signalling, which potentially opens new avenues for therapeutic interventions by targeting Wnt secretion via Evi/Wls.

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