WNT receptor signalling in lung physiology and pathology

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Abstract

The WNT signalling cascades have emerged as critical regulators of a wide variety of biological aspects involved in lung development as well as in physiological and pathophysiological processes in the adult lung. WNTs (secreted glycoproteins) interact with various transmembrane receptors and co-receptors to activate signalling pathways that regulate transcriptional as well as non-transcriptional responses within cells. In physiological conditions, the majority of WNT receptors and co-receptors can be detected in the adult lung. However, dysregulation of WNT signalling pathways contributes to the development and progression of chronic lung pathologies, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and lung cancer. The interaction between a WNT and the (co-)receptor(s) present at the cell surface is the initial step in transducing an extracellular signal into an intracellular response. This proximal event in WNT signal transduction with (cell-specific) ligand-receptor interactions is of great interest as a potential target for pharmacological intervention. In this review we highlight the diverse expression of various WNT receptors and co-receptors in the aforementioned chronic lung diseases and discuss the currently available biologicals and pharmacological tools to modify proximal WNT signalling.

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