Wnt signaling potentiates nevogenesis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Oct 1;110(40):16009-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1303491110. Epub 2013 Sep 16.


Cellular senescence is a stable proliferation arrest associated with an altered secretory pathway (senescence-associated secretory phenotype). Cellular senescence is also a tumor suppressor mechanism, to which both proliferation arrest and senescence-associated secretory phenotype are thought to contribute. The melanocytes within benign human nevi are a paradigm for tumor-suppressive senescent cells in a premalignant neoplasm. Here a comparison of proliferating and senescent melanocytes and melanoma cell lines by RNA sequencing emphasizes the importance of senescence-associated proliferation arrest in suppression of transformation. Previous studies showed that activation of the Wnt signaling pathway can delay or bypass senescence. Consistent with this, we present evidence that repression of Wnt signaling contributes to melanocyte senescence in vitro. Surprisingly, Wnt signaling is active in many senescent human melanocytes in nevi, and this is linked to histological indicators of higher proliferative and malignant potential. In a mouse, activated Wnt signaling delays senescence-associated proliferation arrest to expand the population of senescent oncogene-expressing melanocytes. These results suggest that Wnt signaling can potentiate nevogenesis in vivo by delaying senescence. Further, we suggest that activated Wnt signaling in human nevi undermines senescence-mediated tumor suppression and enhances the probability of malignancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanocytes / cytology
  • Melanocytes / physiology*
  • Melanoma / etiology*
  • Mice
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Nevus / metabolism
  • Nevus / physiopathology*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*


  • DNA Primers

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE46818