The development of chemoresistance represents a major obstacle in the successful treatment of cancers such as neuroblastoma (NB), a particularly aggressive childhood solid tumour. The mechanisms underlying the chemoresistant phenotype in NB were addressed by gene expression profiling of two doxorubicin (DoxR)-resistant vs sensitive parental cell lines. Not surprisingly, theMDR1gene was included in the identified upregulated genes, although the highest overexpressed transcript in both cell lines was the frizzled-1 Wnt receptor (FZD1) gene, an essential component of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. FZD1 upregulation in resistant variants was shown to mediate sustained activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway as revealed by nuclear β-catenin translocation and target genes transactivation. Interestingly, specific micro-adapted short hairpin RNA (shRNAmir)-mediated FZD1 silencing induced parallel strong decrease in the expression of MDR1, another β-catenin target gene, revealing a complex, Wnt/β-catenin-mediated implication of FZD1 in chemoresistance. The significant restoration of drug sensitivity in FZD1-silenced cells confirmed the FZD1-associated chemoresistance. RNA samples from 21 patient tumours (diagnosis and postchemotherapy), showed a highly significant FZD1 and/or MDR1 overexpression after treatment, underlining a role for FZD1-mediated Wnt/β-catenin pathway in clinical chemoresistance. Our data represent the first implication of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in NB chemoresistance and identify potential new targets to treat aggressive and resistant NB.
Oncogene (2009) 28, 2245-2256; doi:10.1038/onc.2009.80; published online 4 May 2009