Wnt pathway aberrations including autocrine Wnt activation occur at high frequency in human non-small-cell lung carcinoma

Oncogene. 2009 May 28;28(21):2163-72. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.82. Epub 2009 Apr 20.


Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Non-small-cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs), which represent around 80% of lung tumors, exhibit poor prognosis and are usually refractory to conventional chemotherapy. Elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are dysregulated in NSCLCs may lead to new possibilities for targeted therapy or enhanced efficacy of current therapies. Here we demonstrate Wnt pathway activation in around 50% of human NSCLC cell lines and primary tumors, through different mechanisms, including autocrine Wnt pathway activation involving upregulation of specific Wnt ligands. Downregulation of activated Wnt signaling inhibited NSCLC proliferation and induced a more differentiated phenotype. Together, our findings establish importance of activated Wnt signaling in human NSCLCs and offer the possibility of targeting upregulated Wnt signaling as a new therapeutic modality for this disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autocrine Communication* / drug effects
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects
  • Transcription Factor 4
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • TCF4 protein, human
  • Transcription Factor 4
  • Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins