Activation of the canonical Wnt/beta-catenin pathway confers growth advantages in c-Myc/E2F1 transgenic mouse model of liver cancer

J Hepatol. 2005 Jun;42(6):842-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2005.01.029. Epub 2005 Apr 8.


Background/aims: Previously, we showed that activation of the beta-catenin/Wnt pathway is a dominant event during c-Myc/E2F1 hepatocarcinogenesis. Majority of c-Myc/E2F1 HCCs displayed nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin in the absence of beta-catenin mutations, suggesting that alterations in other members of the Wnt pathway might be responsible for nuclear localization of beta-catenin. Here, we investigated the mechanisms responsible for nuclear translocation of wild-type beta-catenin and addressed the potential contribution of the Wnt pathway in c-Myc/E2F1 hepatocarcinogenesis.

Methods: Status of the members of the Wnt pathway was determined through microsatellite and Western blot analysis.

Results: Majority of c-Myc/E2F1 HCCs exhibited multiple abnormalities in the Wnt pathway regardless of the presence of beta-catenin mutations. The observed abnormalities included overexpression of Wnt-1, Frizzled 1 and 2 receptors, Dishevelled-1, downregulation of Secreted frizzled-related protein-1, GSK-3beta inactivation, microsatellite instability at the Axin locus as well as induction of beta-catenin target genes, such as glutamine synthetase, glutamate transporter-1, and Wisp-1. HCCs with beta-catenin activation displayed significantly higher proliferation rate and larger tumor size when compared with beta-catenin negative tumors.

Conclusions: The data demonstrate that multiple abnormalities in the members of the Wnt pathway lead to nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin and suggest that activation of Wnt pathway provides proliferative advantages in c-Myc/E2F1-driven hepatocarcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • E2F Transcription Factors
  • E2F1 Transcription Factor
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genes, myc / genetics*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, mouse
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • E2F Transcription Factors
  • E2F1 Transcription Factor
  • E2f1 protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • Wnt1 protein, mouse
  • beta Catenin
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3