Aberrant regulation of WNT/β-catenin signaling plays a crucial role in the onset and progression of cancers, where the effects are not always predictable depending on tumor context. In melanoma for example, models of the disease predict differing effects of the WNT/β-catenin pathway on metastatic progression. Understanding the processes that underpin the highly context dependent nature of WNT/β-catenin signaling in tumors is essential to achieve maximal therapeutic benefit from WNT inhibitory compounds. In this study we have found that expression of the tumor suppressor, PTEN, alters the invasive potential of melanoma cells in response to WNT/β-catenin signaling, correlating with differing metabolic profiles. This alters the bioenergetic potential and mitochondrial activity of melanoma cells, triggered through regulation of pro-survival autophagy. Thus, WNT/β-catenin signaling is a regulator of catabolic processes in cancer cells, which varies depending on the metabolic requirements of tumors.
Brown, K., Yang, P., Nobre Salvador, D., Kulikauskas, R., Ruohola-Baker, H., Robitaille, A. M., Chien, A. J., Moon, R. T., & Sherwood, V. (2017). WNT/β-catenin signaling regulates mitochondrial activity to alter the oncogenic potential of melanoma in a PTEN-dependent manner. Oncogene, 36(22), 3119-3136. https://doi.org/10.1038/onc.2016.450