Cultured endothelial cells display endogenous activation of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway and express multiple ligands, receptors, and secreted modulators of Wnt signaling

Dev Dyn. 2006 Nov;235(11):3110-20. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.20939.


A growing body of evidence implicates Wnt signaling in the control of angiogenesis. To better understand the role of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in endothelial cells (EC), we examined endogenous signaling activity and signaling component expression in vascular cells. We observed stabilization of cytosolic beta-catenin and activation of a T-cell factor (TCF) -luciferase promoter, hallmarks of canonical Wnt signaling activity, in cultured EC. This activity was increased in subconfluent EC, which are known to display characteristics of angiogenic EC, compared with confluent EC, which have a more differentiated phenotype. Endogenous TCF activity was inhibited by transfection with a secreted inhibitor of canonical Wnt signaling. A systematic analysis of Wnt, Fzd, SFRP, and Dkk gene expression in human EC (cultured and freshly isolated), smooth muscle cells (cultured), and aorta demonstrated that numerous Wnt signaling components are expressed by vascular cells. We conclude that Wnt signaling components are expressed and active in cultured EC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Frizzled Receptors / genetics
  • Frizzled Receptors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • TCF Transcription Factors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • TCF Transcription Factors / genetics
  • TCF Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Wnt Proteins / agonists*
  • Wound Healing / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Frizzled Receptors
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, LDL
  • SFRP1 protein, human
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin