Aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays a key role in the onset and development of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), with about half of them acquiring mutations in either CTNNB1 or AXIN1. However, it remains unclear whether these mutations impose sufficient β-catenin signaling or require upstream Wnt ligand activation for sustaining optimal growth, as previously suggested for colorectal cancers. Using a panel of nine HCC cell lines, we show that siRNA-mediated knockdown of β-catenin impairs growth of all these lines. Blocking Wnt secretion, by either treatment with the IWP12 porcupine inhibitor or knockdown of WLS, reduces growth of most of the lines. Unexpectedly, interfering with Wnt secretion does not clearly affect the level of β-catenin signaling in the majority of lines, suggesting that other mechanisms underlie the growth-suppressive effect. However, IWP12 treatment did not induce autophagy or endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which may have resulted from the accumulation of Wnt ligands within the ER. Similar results were observed for colorectal cancer cell lines used for comparison in various assays. These results suggest that most colorectal and liver cancers with mutations in components of the β-catenin degradation complex do not strongly rely on extracellular Wnt ligand exposure to support optimal growth. In addition, our results also suggest that blocking Wnt secretion may aid in tumor suppression through alternative routes currently unappreciated.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neo.2016.10.004, hdl.handle.net/1765/98815
Journal Neoplasia (United States)
Wang, W, Xu, L, Liu, P, Jairam, K. (Kiran), Yin, Y, Chen, K, … Smits, M.J.M. (2016). Blocking Wnt Secretion Reduces Growth of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cell Lines Mostly Independent of β-Catenin Signaling. Neoplasia (United States), 18(12), 711–723. doi:10.1016/j.neo.2016.10.004