Wnt isoform-specific interactions with coreceptor specify inhibition or potentiation of signaling by LRP6 antibodies

PLoS One. 2010 Sep 13;5(9):e12682. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012682.


β-Catenin-dependent Wnt signaling is initiated as Wnt binds to both the receptor FZD and coreceptor LRP5/6, which then assembles a multimeric complex at the cytoplasmic membrane face to recruit and inactivate the kinase GSK3. The large number and sequence diversity of Wnt isoforms suggest the possibility of domain-specific ligand-coreceptor interactions, and distinct binding sites on LRP6 for Wnt3a and Wnt9b have recently been identified in vitro. Whether mechanistically different interactions between Wnts and coreceptors might mediate signaling remains to be determined. It is also not clear whether coreceptor homodimerization induced extracellularly can activate Wnt signaling, as is the case for receptor tyrosine kinases. We generated monoclonal antibodies against LRP6 with the unexpected ability to inhibit signaling by some Wnt isoforms and potentiate signaling by other isoforms. In cell culture, two antibodies characterized further show reciprocal activities on most Wnts, with one antibody antagonizing and the other potentiating. We demonstrate that these antibodies bind to different regions of LRP6 protein, and inhibition of signaling results from blocking Wnt binding. Antibody-mediated dimerization of LRP6 can potentiate signaling only when a Wnt isoform is also able to bind the complex, presumably recruiting FZD. Endogenous autocrine Wnt signaling in different tumor cell lines can be either antagonized or enhanced by the LRP6 antibodies, indicating expression of different Wnt isoforms. As anticipated from the roles of Wnt signaling in cancer and bone development, antibody activities can also be observed in mice for inhibition of tumor growth and in organ culture for enhancement of bone mineral density. Collectively, our results indicate that separate binding sites for different subsets of Wnt isoforms determine the inhibition or potentiation of signaling conferred by LRP6 antibodies. This complexity of coreceptor-ligand interactions may allow for differential regulation of signaling by Wnt isoforms during development, and can be exploited with antibodies to differentially manipulate Wnt signaling in specific tissues or disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins / genetics
  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins / immunology*
  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins / metabolism
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-6
  • Mice
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Species Specificity
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antibodies
  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins
  • LRP6 protein, human
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-6
  • Lrp6 protein, mouse
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Wnt Proteins