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Front Oncol. 2017 Jun 26;7:135. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2017.00135. eCollection 2017.

Ror2 Signaling and Its Relevance in Breast Cancer Progression.

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Department of Medical Statistics, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
Clinic for Internal Medicine III, Hematology and Medical Oncology, University Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease and has been classified into five molecular subtypes based on gene expression profiles. Signaling processes linked to different breast cancer molecular subtypes and different clinical outcomes are still poorly understood. Aberrant regulation of Wnt signaling has been implicated in breast cancer progression. In particular Ror1/2 receptors and several other members of the non-canonical Wnt signaling pathway were associated with aggressive breast cancer behavior. However, Wnt signals are mediated via multiple complex pathways, and it is clinically important to determine which particular Wnt cascades, including their domains and targets, are deregulated in poor prognosis breast cancer. To investigate activation and outcome of the Ror2-dependent non-canonical Wnt signaling pathway, we overexpressed the Ror2 receptor in MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells, stimulated the cells with its ligand Wnt5a, and we knocked-down Ror1 in MDA-MB231 cells. We measured the invasive capacity of perturbed cells to assess phenotypic changes, and mRNA was profiled to quantify gene expression changes. Differentially expressed genes were integrated into a literature-based non-canonical Wnt signaling network. The results were further used in the analysis of an independent dataset of breast cancer patients with metastasis-free survival annotation. Overexpression of the Ror2 receptor, stimulation with Wnt5a, as well as the combination of both perturbations enhanced invasiveness of MCF-7 cells. The expression-responsive targets of Ror2 overexpression in MCF-7 induced a Ror2/Wnt module of the non-canonical Wnt signaling pathway. These targets alter regulation of other pathways involved in cell remodeling processing and cell metabolism. Furthermore, the genes of the Ror2/Wnt module were assessed as a gene signature in patient gene expression data and showed an association with clinical outcome. In summary, results of this study indicate a role of a newly defined Ror2/Wnt module in breast cancer progression and present a link between Ror2 expression and increased cell invasiveness.


Ror2; Wnt signaling; breast cancer; metastasis; module; network integration

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