Dickkopf-1 mediated tumor suppression in human breast carcinoma cells.

Research paper by Andrei M AM Mikheev, Svetlana A SA Mikheeva, John-Patrick JP Maxwell, Julia V JV Rivo, Robert R Rostomily, Karen K Swisshelm, Helmut H Zarbl

Indexed on: 25 Dec '07Published on: 25 Dec '07Published in: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment


Dickkopf-1 (DKK-1) is a secreted inhibitor of the Wnt signaling pathway. We previously identified DKK-1 as a candidate tumor suppressor and demonstrated that ectopic expression of the DKK-1 suppressed the tumorigenicity of HeLa cells in vitro and in vivo. Since suppression of tumorigenicity of HeLa cells by DKK-1 overexpression was not mediated by effects on beta-catenin dependent transcription, we hypothesized that DKK-1 might also inhibit tumorigenicity of breast carcinoma cell lines lacking an activated canonical Wnt pathway. In the present study we show that ectopic expression of DKK-1 in various breast cancer cell lines resulted in a change in the cell phenotype, increased sensitivity to apoptosis, inhibition of anchorage independent growth in vitro, and suppression of tumorigenicity in vivo. Consistent with known effects of DKK-1 on the canonical Wnt signaling pathway, ectopic expression of DKK-1 in breast carcinoma cells was associated with increased phosphorylation and degradation of beta-catenin. However, none of the breast tumor cells used in this study showed detectable levels of beta-catenin dependent activation of TCF/Lef promoter activity measured by reporter constructs. Consistent with the results of these transient transfection assays, we were unable to demonstrate the expected beta-catenin dependent, TCF/Lef mediated inhibition of cyclin D1 and c-myc gene transcription in breast cells overexpressing DKK-1. However, we found that cells with DKK-1 overexpression have increased activity of CamKII pathway. Overexpression of the constitutively active form of CamKII (T286D) resulted in inhibition of breast cancer cell tumorigenicity. Thus, our study supports the hypothesis that DKK-1 mediated tumor suppressor effect is independent of beta-catenin dependent transcription and identified the CamKII pathway that contributes into DKK-1 signaling.