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Soluble Frizzled-7 receptor inhibits Wnt signaling and sensitizes hepatocellular carcinoma cells towards doxorubicin

Author(s): Wei Wei | Chua Mei-Sze | Grepper Susan | So Samuel

Journal: Molecular Cancer
ISSN 1476-4598

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 16;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background There are limited therapeutic options for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common liver malignancy worldwide. Recent studies have identified the Frizzled-7 receptor (FZD7), important for activation of Wnt-mediated signaling, as a potential therapeutic target for HCC and other cancers. Methods We hypothesized that the extracellular domain of FZD7 (sFZD7) would be a clinically more relevant therapeutic modality than previously studied approaches to target FZD7. We expressed and purified sFZD7 from E. coli, and tested its functional activity to interact with Wnt3, its ability to inhibit Wnt3-mediated signaling, and its potential for combinatorial therapy in HCC. Results sFZD7 pulled down Wnt3 from Huh7 cells, and decreased β-catenin/Tcf4 transcriptional activity in HCC cells. In vitro, sFZD7 dose-dependently decreased viability of three HCC cell lines (HepG2, Hep40, and Huh7, all with high FZD7 and Wnt3 mRNA), but had little effect on normal hepatocytes from three donors (all with low level FZD7 and Wnt3 mRNA). When combined with doxorubicin, sFZD7 enhanced the growth inhibitory effects of doxorubicin against HCC cells in vitro, and against Huh7 xenografts in vivo. Reduced expressions of c-Myc, cyclin D1, and survivin were observed in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, sFZD7 altered the levels of phosphorylated AKT and ERK1/2 induced by doxorubicin treatment in vitro, suggesting that several critical pathways are involved in the chemosensitizing effect of sFZD7. Conclusions We propose that sFZD7 is a feasible therapeutic agent with specific activity, which can potentially be combined with other chemotherapeutic agents for the improved management of HCC.
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