Rationale for targeting the Wnt signalling modulator Dickkopf-1 for oncology

Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Dec;174(24):4637-4650. doi: 10.1111/bph.13894. Epub 2017 Jul 7.


Wnt signalling is a fundamental pathway involved in embryonic development and adult tissue homeostasis. Mutations in the pathway frequently lead to developmental defects and cancer. As such, therapeutic intervention of this pathway has generated tremendous interest. Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) is a secreted inhibitor of β-catenin-dependent Wnt signalling and was originally characterized as a tumour suppressor based on the prevailing view that Wnt signalling promotes cancer pathogenesis. However, DKK1 appears to increase tumour growth and metastasis in preclinical models and its elevated expression correlates with a poor prognosis in a range of cancers, indicating that DKK1 has more complex cellular and biological functions than originally appreciated. Here, we review current evidence for the cancer-promoting activity of DKK1 and recent insights into the effects of DKK1 on signalling pathways in both cancer and immune cells. We discuss the rationale and promise of targeting DKK1 for oncology.

Linked articles: This article is part of a themed section on WNT Signalling: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Opportunities. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.24/issuetoc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / drug effects*


  • DKK1 protein, human
  • Dkk1 protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins