A team at CIC bioGUNE, in collaboration with researchers at Turku and Åbo Akademi Universities in Finland and at Imperial College London have identified a novel link between Wnt and TGF-β signaling in prostate cancer. In their search for cell surface receptors required for tumor cells to invade their surroundings, an essential feature of metastatic disease, they identified Frizzled 8 (FZD8) and found that, like its ligand Wnt-11, it is upregulated in prostate cancer patient tumors.

Lead author Virginia Murillo, funded by an EMBO Short-Term Fellowship, visited colleagues in Finland, where together they used organotypic 3D cultures and chick egg chorioallantoic membrane assays to demonstrate the function of FZD8 in prostate cancer. An unexpected discovery was that FZD8 plays a direct role in TGF-β signaling by associating with the TGF-β receptor complex to regulate the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) (see cartoon).

Understanding how FZD8 integrates Wnt and TGF-β signals at the molecular level is anticipated to lead to more specific therapies for cancer and for wound healing and fibrosis, where FZD8 is also implicated. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications, the paper is entitled: “Frizzled-8 integrates Wnt-11 and transforming growth factor-β signaling in prostate cancer”.

About CIC bioGUNE

The Centre for Cooperative Research in Biosciences (CIC bioGUNE), located in the Bizkaia Technology Park, is a biomedical research organization conducting cutting-edge research at the interface between structural, molecular and cell biology, with a particular focus on generating knowledge on the molecular bases of disease, for use in the development of new diagnostic methods and advanced therapies.

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