Wnts are a family of evolutionary-conserved secreted signaling molecules critically involved in a variety of developmental processes and in cell fate determination. A growing body of evidence suggests that Wnt signaling plays a crucial role in the influence of bone marrow stromal microenvironment on the balance between hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Emerging clinical and experimental evidence also indicates Wnt signaling involvement in the disruption of the latter balance in hematologic malignancies, where the stromal microenvironment favors the homing of cancer cells to the bone marrow, as well as leukemia stem cell development and chemoresistance. In the present review, we summarize and discuss the role of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in normal hematopoiesis and hematologic malignancies, with regard to recent findings on the stromal microenvironment involvement in these process and diseases.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.