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Resistance to chemotherapy is a major obstacle for curative treatment of human gastric cancer (GC). However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Wingless-type MMTV integration site family members (WNTs) are secreted glycoproteins involved in embryogenesis and, on inappropriate expression in the adult, in cancer. Here, we show expression of WNT6 in GC patient specimens, human GC cell lines and in a mouse model of GC. In human GC cells, WNT6 expression was enhanced by caveolin-1 (Cav1), a scaffold protein of plasma membrane caveolae. WNT6 knock-down and overexpression experiments demonstrated that WNT6 increased the resistance to apoptotic cell death induced by the anthracycline chemotherapeutics epirubicin (Epi) and doxorubicin (Dox). Epi increased the activity of the human WNT6 promoter through Cav1-dependent binding of β-catenin to the proximal WNT6 promoter. Epi increased both WNT6/Wnt6 and Cav1 expression in human GC cells and within the tumor area of a murine model of GC (CEA424-SV40 TAg). In GC patients, WNT6 expression was positively associated with the tumor stage and the nodal status, and inversely correlated with the response to ECF (Epi, cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil) chemotherapy. These results showed that WNT6 and Cav1 are upregulated by chemotherapeutics and enhance the resistance of GC cells to anthracycline drugs. Understanding the molecular mechanisms driving WNT6/Cav1-induced drug resistance will provide benefits in developing new therapies for GC.


G Yuan, I Regel, F Lian, T Friedrich, I Hitkova, R D Hofheinz, P Ströbel, R Langer, G Keller, C Röcken, W Zimmermann, R M Schmid, M P A Ebert, E Burgermeister. WNT6 is a novel target gene of caveolin-1 promoting chemoresistance to epirubicin in human gastric cancer cells. Oncogene. 2013 Jan 17;32(3):375-87

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PMID: 22370641

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