DDX56 modulates post-transcriptional Wnt signaling through miRNAs and is associated with early recurrence in squamous cell lung carcinoma

Mol Cancer. 2021 Aug 26;20(1):108. doi: 10.1186/s12943-021-01403-w.


Background: Early recurrence is a major obstacle to prolonged postoperative survival in squamous cell lung carcinoma (SqCLC). The molecular mechanisms underlying early SqCLC recurrence remain unclear, and effective prognostic biomarkers for predicting early recurrence are needed.

Methods: We analyzed primary tumor samples of 20 SqCLC patients using quantitative proteomics to identify differentially-expressed proteins in patients who experienced early versus late disease recurrence. The expression and prognostic significance of DDX56 was evaluated using a SqCLC tumor tissue microarray and further verified using different online databases. We performed in vitro and in vivo experiments to obtain detailed molecular insight into the functional role of DDX56 in SqCLC.

Results: We found that DDX56 exhibited increased expression in tumors of patients who experienced early versus late disease recurrence. Increased DDX56 expression in SqCLC tumors was subsequently confirmed as an independent prognostic factor of poor recurrence-free survival in independent SqCLC cohorts. Functionally, DDX56 promotes SqCLC cell growth and migration in vitro, and xenograft tumor progression in vivo. Mechanistically, DDX56 post-transcriptionally promotes expression of multiple Wnt signaling pathway-related genes, including CTNNB1, WNT2B, and represses a subset of miRNAs, including miR-378a-3p, a known suppressor of Wnt signaling. Detailed analysis revealed that DDX56 facilitated degradation of primary miR-378a, leading to down-regulation of mature miR-378a-3p and thus derepression of the target gene WNT2B.

Conclusion: We identified DDX56 as a novel independent prognostic biomarker that exerts its oncogenic effects through miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation of Wnt signaling genes to promote early SqCLC recurrence. DDX56 may assist in identifying SqCLC patients at increased risk of early recurrence and who could benefit from Wnt signaling-targeted therapies.

Keywords: DDX56; Squamous cell lung cancer; Wnt signaling pathway; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Models, Biological
  • Prognosis
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • DDX56 protein, human
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases