The Wnt signaling pathway and its role in tumor development

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2003 Apr;129(4):199-221. doi: 10.1007/s00432-003-0431-0. Epub 2003 Apr 18.


Cancer development depends on the aberrant activation of signal transduction pathways that control cell growth and survival and play important roles in normal embryonic development. This review will focus on one of the most powerful pathways, the canonical Wnt signal transduction cascade, which has been originally described in vertebrate and non-vertebrate embryogenesis and subsequently associated with the development of a multitude of different tumor types, mainly of gastrointestinal origin. In recent years, a variety of novel interacting components and functions have been identified in the Wnt pathway revealing not only the complexity of Wnt signaling but also its potency. Here we will concentrate on the role of the Wnt pathway in cancer development with emphasis placed on the molecular defects known to promote neoplastic transformation in humans and in animal models.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / chemistry
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axin Protein
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Genes, APC / physiology
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / physiology
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Humans
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Proteins / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins*
  • beta Catenin


  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein
  • Axin Protein
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3