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Panminerva Medica 2015 December;57(4):167-75


language: English

ZnRF3 induces apoptosis of gastric cancer cells by antagonizing Wnt and Hedgehog signaling

Qin H. 1, Cai A. 1, Xi H. 1, Yuan J. 2, Chen L. 1

1 General Surgery Department, PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China; 2 Pathology Department, PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China


AIM: The aim of this paper was to investigate the function an importance of E3-ubiquitin ligase ZnRF3 in the progression of cancer cell growth.
METHODS: A total of 58 patients (44 males and 14 females) were enrolled in the study and their gastric tumors were removed surgically and were staged by the TNM approach. Among these patients, 43 patients died and 15 survived at the time of this study. The tumors and the paracancerous tissues were examined by immunohostochemistry for the expression of ZnRF3. We assessed the expression of ZnRF3 in gastric tumors and paracancerous tissues from our patients and related this to patient survival.
RESULTS: A large proportion of malignant cancers of the stomach are gastric adenocarcinoma type. In spite of many studies, the molecular basis for this cancer is still unclear. Deregulated cell proliferative signaling via Wnt/β-catenin and Hedgehog pathways is considered important in the pathogenesis of many cancers including the gastric cancer. Recent studies identified ZnRF3 protein, which is a E3-ubiquitin ligase and which is either deleted or mutated in cancers, to inhibit Wnt signaling. However, the significance of ZnRF3 in the control of gastric cancer and whether it also regulates Hedgehog signaling pathway, is not known. ZnRF3 expression was much higher in tumors from aged patients. Male patients showed higher mortality than the females. Mechanistic studies using normal gastric cells (GES1) and gastric cancer cells (MGC-803) infected with either AdZnRF3 or AdGFP viral vectors, revealed that ZnRF3 overexpression causes significantly more apoptosis and lowered proliferation of cancer cells. ZnRF3 overexpression led to greatly reduced levels of Lgr5, a component of Wnt signaling and also Gli1, a component of Hedgehog signaling. Thus, ZnRF3 negatively influences both the Wnt and Hedgehog proliferative pathways and probably this way it negatively regulates cancer progression. These results suggest the importance of normal ZnRF3 function in checking the progression of cancer cell growth and indicate that a lack of this protein can lead to poorer clinical outcomes for gastric cancer patients.
CONCLUSION: We observed a clear relationship between ZnRF3 expression in paracancerous tissue and tumor size.

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