Diverse chemical scaffolds support direct inhibition of the membrane-bound O-acyltransferase porcupine.
ABSTRACT Secreted Wnt proteins constitute one of the largest families of intercellular signaling molecules in vertebrates with essential roles in embryonic development and adult tissue homeostasis. The functional redundancy of Wnt genes and the many forms of cellular responses they elicit, including some utilizing the transcriptional co-activator β-catenin, has limited the ability of classical genetic strategies to uncover their roles in vivo. We had previously identified a chemical compound class termed Inhibitor of Wnt Production (or IWP) that targets Porcupine (Porcn), an acyltransferase catalyzing the addition of fatty acid adducts onto Wnt proteins. Here we demonstrate that diverse chemical structures are able to inhibit Porcn by targeting its putative active site. When deployed in concert with small molecules that modulate the activity of Tankyrase enzymes and glycogen synthase kinase 3 β (GSK3β), additional transducers of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, the IWP compounds reveal an essential role for Wnt protein fatty acylation in eliciting β-catenin-dependent and -independent forms of Wnt signaling during zebrafish development. This collection of small molecules facilitates rapid dissection of Wnt gene function in vivo by limiting the influence of redundant Wnt gene functions on phenotypic outcomes and enables temporal manipulation of Wnt-mediated signaling in vertebrates.
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ABSTRACT: Aberrant regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway has an important role during the onset and progression of colorectal cancer, with over 90% of cases of sporadic colon cancer featuring mutations in APC or β-catenin. However, it has remained a point of controversy whether these mutations are sufficient to activate the pathway or require additional upstream signals. Here we show that colorectal tumours express elevated levels of Wnt3 and Evi/Wls/GPR177. We found that in colon cancer cells, even in the presence of mutations in APC or β-catenin, downstream signalling remains responsive to Wnt ligands and receptor proximal signalling. Furthermore, we demonstrate that truncated APC proteins bind β-catenin and key components of the destruction complex. These results indicate that cells with mutations in APC or β-catenin depend on Wnt ligands and their secretion for a sufficient level of β-catenin signalling, which potentially opens new avenues for therapeutic interventions by targeting Wnt secretion via Evi/Wls.Nature Communications 10/2013; 4:2610. · 10.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Wnt proteins contain palmitoleic acid, an unusual lipid modification. Production of an active Wnt signal requires the acyltransferase Porcupine and depends on the attachment of palmitoleic acid to Wnt. The source of this monounsaturated fatty acid has not been identified, and it is not known how Porcupine recognizes its substrate and whether desaturation occurs before or after fatty acid transfer to Wnt. Here, we show that stearoyl desaturase (SCD) generates a monounsaturated fatty acid substrate that is then transferred by Porcupine to Wnt. Treatment of cells with SCD inhibitors blocked incorporation of palmitate analogs into Wnt3a and Wnt5a and reduced Wnt secretion as well as autocrine and paracrine Wnt signaling. The SCD inhibitor effects were rescued by exogenous addition of monounsaturated fatty acids. We propose that SCD is a key molecular player responsible for Wnt biogenesis and processing and that SCD inhibition provides an alternative mechanism for blocking Wnt pathway activation.Cell Reports 09/2013; · 7.21 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Wnt signaling is one of the key oncogenic pathways in multiple cancers, and targeting this pathway is an attractive therapeutic approach. However, therapeutic success has been limited because of the lack of therapeutic agents for targets in the Wnt pathway and the lack of a defined patient population that would be sensitive to a Wnt inhibitor. We developed a screen for small molecules that block Wnt secretion. This effort led to the discovery of LGK974, a potent and specific small-molecule Porcupine (PORCN) inhibitor. PORCN is a membrane-bound O-acyltransferase that is required for and dedicated to palmitoylation of Wnt ligands, a necessary step in the processing of Wnt ligand secretion. We show that LGK974 potently inhibits Wnt signaling in vitro and in vivo, including reduction of the Wnt-dependent LRP6 phosphorylation and the expression of Wnt target genes, such as AXIN2. LGK974 is potent and efficacious in multiple tumor models at well-tolerated doses in vivo, including murine and rat mechanistic breast cancer models driven by MMTV-Wnt1 and a human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma model (HN30). We also show that head and neck cancer cell lines with loss-of-function mutations in the Notch signaling pathway have a high response rate to LGK974. Together, these findings provide both a strategy and tools for targeting Wnt-driven cancers through the inhibition of PORCN.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor