The canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway is constitutively activated in more than 90% of colorectal cancer (CRC) cases in which β-catenin contributes to CRC cell growth and survival. In contrast to the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, the non-canonical Wnt pathway can antagonize functions of the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Wnt5a is a key factor in the non-canonical Wnt pathway, and it plays diverse roles in different types of cancers. It was shown that reintroducing Wnt5a into CRC cells resulted in inhibited cell proliferation and impaired cell motility. However, contradictory results were reported describing increased Wnt5a expression being associated with a poor prognosis of CRC patients. Recently, it was shown that the diverse roles of Wnt5a are due to two distinct roles of Wnt5a isoforms. However, the exact roles and functions of the Wnt5a isoforms in CRC remain largely unclear. The present study for the first time showed the ambiguous role of Wnt5a in CRC was due to the encoding of distinct roles of the various Wnt5a mRNA isoforms. A relatively high expression level of the Wnt5a-short (S) isoform transcript and a low expression level of the Wnt5a-long (L) isoform transcript were detected in CRC cell lines and specimens. In addition, high expression levels of the Wnt5a-S mRNA isoform and low expression levels of the Wnt5a-L mRNA isoform were significantly positively correlated with tumor depth of CRC patients. Furthermore, knockdown of the endogenous expression of the Wnt5a-S mRNA isoform in HCT116 cells drastically inhibited their growth ability by inducing apoptosis through induction of FASLG expression and reduction of TNFRSF11B expression. Moreover, reactivation of methylation inactivation of the Wnt5a-L mRNA isoform by treatment with 5-azacytidine (5-Aza) enhanced the siWnt5a-S isoform’s ability to induce apoptosis. Finally, we showed that the simultaneous reactivation of Wnt5a-L mRNA isoform and knockdown of Wnt5a-S mRNA isoform expression enhanced siWnt5a-S isoform-induced apoptosis and siWnt5a-L isoform-regulated suppression of β-catenin expression in vitro. High expression levels of the Wnt5a-S mRNA isoform and low expression levels of the Wnt5a-L mRNA isoform were significantly positively correlated with high mRNA levels of β-catenin detection in vivo. Altogether, our study showed that, for the first time, different Wnt5a mRNA isoforms play distinct roles in CRC and can be used as novel prognostic markers for CRC in the future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)