Journal Article

β-catenin-independent WNT signaling in basal-like breast cancer and brain metastasis

F. Klemm, A. Bleckmann, L. Siam, H.N. Chuang, E. Rietkötter, D. Behme, M. Schulz, M. Schaffrinski, S. Schindler, L. Trümper, F. Kramer, T. Beissbarth, C. Stadelmann, C. Binder and T. Pukrop

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 32, issue 3, pages 434-442
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online December 2010 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
β-catenin-independent WNT signaling in basal-like breast cancer and brain metastasis

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A role of WNT signaling for primary breast cancers of the basal-like subtype and as a predictor of brain metastasis has been described. However, a responsible WNT ligand has not been identified. To further clarify this question, we comparatively investigated 22 human breast cancer brain metastases as well as the highly invasive human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 and the weakly motile MCF-7 as models for the basal-like and the luminal A subtype. WNT5A and B were found overexpressed in MDA-MB-231 cells as compared with MCF-7. This corresponded to reduction of MDA-MB-231 invasiveness by WNT inhibitors, whereas MCF-7 invasion was enhanced by recombinant WNT5B and abolished by WNT and Jun-N-terminal kinase antagonists. Expression and subcellular distribution of β-catenin remained uninfluenced. Consistently, β-catenin was not localized in the nuclei of brain metastases while there was strong nuclear c-Jun staining. Similar to MDA-MB-231, metastases showed expression of WNT5A/B and the alternative WNT receptors ROR1 and 2. These findings were validated using external gene expression datasets (Gene Expression Omnibus) of different breast cancer subtypes and brain metastases. Hierarchical cluster analysis yielded a close relation between basal-like cancers and brain metastases. Gene set enrichment analyses confirmed WNT pathway enrichment not only in basal-like primaries but also in cerebral metastases of all subtypes. In conclusion, WNT signaling seems highly relevant for basal-like and other subtypes of breast cancers metastasizing into the brain. β-catenin-independent WNT signaling, presumably via ROR1-2, plays a major role in this context.

Journal Article.  5620 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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