Direct interaction of β-catenin with nuclear ESM1 supports stemness of metastatic prostate cancer

Ke Fan Pan, Wei Jiunn Lee, Chun Chi Chou, Yi Chieh Yang, Yu Chan Chang, Ming Hsien Chien, Michael Hsiao, Kuo Tai Hua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Wnt/β-catenin signaling is frequently activated in advanced prostate cancer and contributes to therapy resistance and metastasis. However, activating mutations in the Wnt/β-catenin pathway are not common in prostate cancer, suggesting alternative regulations may exist. Here, we report that the expression of endothelial cell-specific molecule 1 (ESM1), a secretory proteoglycan, is positively associated with prostate cancer stemness and progression by promoting Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Elevated ESM1 expression correlates with poor overall survival and metastasis. Accumulation of nuclear ESM1, instead of cytosolic or secretory ESM1, supports prostate cancer stemness by interacting with the ARM domain of β-catenin to stabilize β-catenin–TCF4 complex and facilitate the transactivation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling targets. Accordingly, activated β-catenin in turn mediates the nuclear entry of ESM1. Our results establish the significance of mislocalized ESM1 in driving metastasis in prostate cancer by coordinating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, with implications for its potential use as a diagnostic or prognostic biomarker and as a candidate therapeutic target in prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere105450
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2021


  • cancer stemness
  • tumor metastasis
  • Wnt-β-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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