Background: Aberrations in the Wnt pathway have been reported to be involved in the metastasis of prostate cancer (PCa) to bone. We investigated the effect and underlying mechanism of a naturally-occurring Wnt inhibitor, WIF1, on the growth and cellular invasiveness of a bone metastatic PCa cell line, PC3.
Results: The WIF1 gene promoter was hypermethylated and its expression down-regulated in the majority (7 of 8) of PCa cell lines. Restoration of WIF1 expression in PC-3 cells resulted in a decreased cell motility and invasiveness via up-regulation of epithelial markers (E-cadherin, Keratin-8 and-18), down-regulation of mesenchymal markers (N-cadherin, Fibronectin and Vimentin) and decreased activity of MMP-2 and -9. PC3 cells transfected with WIF1 consistently demonstrated reduced expression of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) transcription factors, Slug and Twist, and a change in morphology from mesenchymal to epithelial. Moreover, WIF1 expression significantly reduced tumor growth by approximately 63% in a xenograft mouse model. This was accompanied by an increased expression of E-cadherin and Keratin-18 and a decreased expression of vimentin in tumor tissues.
Conclusion: These data suggest that WIF1 regulates tumor invasion through EMT process and thus, may play an important role in controlling metastatic disease in PCa patients. Blocking Wnt signaling in PCa by WIF1 may represent a novel strategy in the future to reduce metastatic disease burden in PCa patients.