Secreted frizzled-related protein 4 regulates two Wnt7a signaling pathways and inhibits proliferation in endometrial cancer cells

Mol Cancer Res. 2008 Jun;6(6):1017-28. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-08-0039.


In the endometrium, hormonal effects on epithelial cells are often elicited through stromal hormone receptors via unknown paracrine mechanisms. Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that Wnts participate in stromal-epithelial cell communication. Wnt7a is expressed in the luminal epithelium, whereas the extracellular modulator of Wnt signaling, secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (SFRP4), is localized to the stroma. Studies have reported that SFRP4 expression is significantly decreased in endometrial carcinoma and that both SFRP4 and Wnt7a genes are differentially regulated in response to estrogenic stimuli. Aberrant Wnt7a signaling irrevocably causes organ defects and infertility and contributes to the onset of disease. However, specific frizzled receptors (Fzd) that bind Wnt7a and the particular signal transduction pathway each Wnt7a-Fzd pair activates have not been identified. Additionally, the function of SFRP4 in the endometrium has not been addressed. We show here that Wnt7a coimmunoprecipitates with Fzd5, Fzd10, and SFRP4 in Ishikawa cells. Wnt7a binding to Fzd5 was shown to activate beta-catenin/canonical Wnt signaling and increase cellular proliferation. Conversely, Wnt7a signaling mediated by Fzd10 induced a noncanonical c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase-responsive pathway. SFRP4 suppresses activation of Wnt7a signaling in both an autocrine and paracrine manner. Stable overexpression of SFRP4 and treatment with recombinant SFRP4 protein inhibited endometrial cancer cell growth in vitro. These findings support a mechanism by which the nature of the Wnt7a signal in the endometrium is dependent on the Fzd repertoire of the cell and can be regulated by SFRP4.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Frizzled Receptors / analysis
  • Frizzled Receptors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Paracrine Communication
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / analysis
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Wnt Proteins / analysis
  • Wnt Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Frizzled Receptors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Sfrp4 protein, rat
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt7a protein, rat
  • beta Catenin
  • Fzd2 protein, rat
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases