Wnt signaling in cancer

Oncogene. 2017 Mar;36(11):1461-1473. doi: 10.1038/onc.2016.304. Epub 2016 Sep 12.


Wnt signaling is one of the key cascades regulating development and stemness, and has also been tightly associated with cancer. The role of Wnt signaling in carcinogenesis has most prominently been described for colorectal cancer, but aberrant Wnt signaling is observed in many more cancer entities. Here, we review current insights into novel components of Wnt pathways and describe their impact on cancer development. Furthermore, we highlight expanding functions of Wnt signaling for both solid and liquid tumors. We also describe current findings how Wnt signaling affects maintenance of cancer stem cells, metastasis and immune control. Finally, we provide an overview of current strategies to antagonize Wnt signaling in cancer and challenges that are associated with such approaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Tumor Escape / immunology
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway* / drug effects
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin