Modulation of Wnt3a-mediated nuclear beta-catenin accumulation and activation by integrin-linked kinase in mammalian cells.

Research paper by A A Oloumi, S S Syam, S S Dedhar

Indexed on: 27 Jun '06Published on: 27 Jun '06Published in: Oncogene


The Wnt gene family encodes secreted signaling molecules that play important roles in tumorgenesis and embryogenesis. The canonical Wnt signaling pathway regulates target gene expression via the stabilization and nuclear translocation of the cytoplasmic pool of beta-catenin. The activation of integrin-linked kinase (ILK) is also known to regulate the stabilization and subsequent nuclear translocation of beta-catenin in several epithelial cell models. We now report that molecular and pharmacological inhibition of ILK activity in mammalian cells directly modulates Wnt signaling by suppressing the stabilization and nuclear translocation of beta-catenin, as well as beta-catenin/Lef-mediated transcription. Inhibition of ILK activity, but not phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) or MEK activities suppresses nuclear beta-catenin stabilization in cells stably expressing Wnt3a as well as in cells exposed to either Wnt3a conditioned media or purified Wnt3a. Furthermore, ILK inhibition reverses the Wnt3a-induced suppression of beta-catenin phosphorylation that accompanies beta-catenin stabilization. In addition, we show that ILK can be identified in a complex with Wnt pathway components such as adenomatous polyposis coli and GSK-3. Upon treatment of L cells with Wnt3a-CM, glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3beta) becomes highly phosphorylated on Ser 9, which is completely abolished upon inhibition of ILK activity. However, acute exposure of L cells to purified Wnt3a does not result in the stimulation of GSK-3beta Ser 9 phosphorylation, despite beta-catenin stabilization. Together our data demonstrate that ILK activity can modulate acute Wnt3a mediated beta-catenin phosphorylation, stabilization and nuclear activation in a PI3K-independent manner, as well as the more prolonged PI3K-dependent secondary effects of Wnt signaling on GSK-3 phosphorylation. Finally, we suggest that a novel small molecule inhibitor of ILK, QLT-0267, may be a useful tool in the regulation of pathological Wnt signaling.