The Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in adrenocortical development and cancer

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Jan 30;332(1-2):32-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2010.11.014. Epub 2010 Nov 20.


Signaling by the Wnt family of secreted glycolipoproteins plays key roles in embryonic development of organisms ranging from nematodes to mammals and is also implicated in several types of human cancers. Canonical Wnt signaling functions by regulating the translocation of β-catenin to the nucleus, where it controls key gene expression programs through interaction with Tcf/Lef and other families of transcription factors. Wnts can also act through non-canonical pathways that do not involve β-catenin activation, but implicate small GTPases/JNK kinase and intracellular calcium. Here we review recent studies that have revealed the expression of several components of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the adrenal cortex and discovered a key role for this pathway in the regulation of proliferation/differentiation of progenitor cells and in tumorigenesis of that endocrine organ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex / cytology
  • Adrenal Cortex / metabolism
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1 / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin