Interplay between microRNAs and WNT/β-catenin signalling pathway regulates epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer

Eur J Cancer. 2015 Aug;51(12):1638-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2015.04.021. Epub 2015 May 26.


The WNT/β-catenin signalling implies its significance in maintaining an epithelial cell phenotype, proper cell-cell junctions, and tissue homeostasis. Dysregulation of the members of this pathway involves in the development of cancer and an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) required for metastasis. Loss of E-cadherin is the major contributor to an EMT process and is largely influenced by the WNT/β-catenin signalling. An E-cadherin/β-catenin complex maintains epithelial integrity and disturbance of this complex and WNT/β-catenin pathway will ultimately lead to the nuclear translocation of β-catenin and transcription of EMT-promoting genes. WNT/β-catenin signalling is controlled by microRNAs (miRNAs), several of which are either up- or downregulated during EMT. The strong association between the expression of the WNT signalling components with miRNAs in the initiation and achievement of an EMT phenotype is suggestive of introducing these miRNAs as therapeutic targets against metastatic tumours. Therefore, this review aims to describe these putative miRNAs in altering the WNT/β-catenin signalling in EMT, and whether targeting them is a useful therapeutic option for human invasive tumours.

Keywords: Epithelial–mesenchymal transition; MicroRNAs; WNT/β-catenin signalling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism
  • beta Catenin / physiology*


  • MicroRNAs
  • beta Catenin