Rani Najdi1, Randall F Holcombe2, Marian L Waterman1
1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Irvine, USA.
2Tisch Cancer Institute, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA.
Activation of the Wnt signaling pathway via mutation of the adenomatous polyposis coli gene (APC) is a critical event in the development of colon cancer. For colon carcinogenesis, however, constitutive signaling through the canonical Wnt pathway is not a singular event. Here we review how canonical Wnt signaling is modulated by intracellular LEF/TCF composition and location, the action of different Wnt ligands, and the secretion of Wnt inhibitory molecules. We also review the contributions of non-canonical Wnt signaling and other distinct pathways in the tumor micro environment that cross-talk to the canonical Wnt pathway and thereby influence colon cancer progression. These ‘non-APC’ aspects of Wnt signaling are considered in relation to the development of potential agents for the treatment of patients with colon cancer. Regulatory pathways that influence Wnt signaling highlight how it might be possible to design therapies that target a network of signals beyond that of APC and β-catenin.
Keywords: Adenomatous polyposis coli gene, colon carcinogenesis, Wnt signaling.