A role for iron in Wnt signalling

Matthew Brookes, J Boult, K Roberts, Brian Cooper, Neil Hotchin, Glenn Matthews, Tariq Iqbal, Chris Tselepis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Citations (Scopus)


There is an emerging body of evidence implicating iron in carcinogenesis and in particular colorectal cancer, but whether this involves Wnt signalling, a major oncogenic signalling pathway has not been studied. We aimed to determine the effect of iron loading on Wnt signalling using mutant APC (Caco-2 and SW480) and wild-type APC (HEK-293 and human primary fibroblasts) containing cell lines. Elevating cellular iron levels in Caco-2 and SW480 cells caused increased Wnt signalling as indicated by increased TOPFLASH reporter activity, increased mRNA expression of two known targets, c-myc and Nkd1, and increased cellular proliferation. In contrast wild-type APC and beta-catenin-containing lines, HEK 293 and human primary fibroblasts were not responsive to iron loading. This was verified in SW480 cells that no longer induced iron-mediated Wnt signalling when transfected with wild-type APC. The cell line LS174T, wild type for APC but mutant for beta-catenin, was also responsive suggesting that the role of iron is to regulate beta-catenin. Furthermore, we show that E-cadherin status has no influence on iron-mediated Wnt signalling. We thus speculate that excess iron could exacerbate tumorigenesis in the background of APC loss, a common finding in cancers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-75
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2008


  • Wnt
  • colon
  • iron
  • E-cadherin


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