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Title: Cripto-1 contributes to stemness in hepatocellular carcinoma by stabilizing Dishevelled-3 and activating Wnt/β-catenin pathway
Authors: Lo, RCL
Leung, CON
Chan, KKS
Wong, CM
Lee, TKW 
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Source: Cell death & differentiation, 2018, v. 25, no. 8, p. 1426-1441 How to cite?
Journal: Cell death and differentiation 
Abstract: Identification and characterization of functional molecular targets conferring stemness properties in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) offers crucial insights to overcome the major hurdles of tumor recurrence, metastasis and chemoresistance in clinical management. In the current study, we investigated the significance of Cripto-1 in contributing to HCC stemness. Cripto-1 was upregulated in the sorafenib-resistant clones derived from HCC cell lines and patient-derived xenograft that we previously developed, suggesting an association between Cripto-1 and stemness. By in vitro experiments, Cripto-1 fostered cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. It also enhanced self-renewal ability and conferred chemoresistance of HCC cells. Consistently, silencing of Cripto-1 suppressed in vivo tumorigenicity on serial transplantation. On the downstream signaling mechanism, expression of major components of Wnt/β-catenin pathway β-catenin, AXIN2, and C-MYC, accompanied by β-catenin activity was reduced upon Cripto-1 knockdown. The suppressive effects on stemness properties with Cripto-1 knockdown in vitro and in vivo were partially rescued by forced expression of constitutively active β-catenin. Further elucidation revealed the binding of Cripto-1 to Frizzled-7 (FZD7), low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 (LRP6) and Dishevelled-3 (DVL3) of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and stabilized DVL3 protein. Analyses with clinical samples validated Cripto-1 overexpression in HCC tissues, as well as a positive correlation between Cripto-1 and AXIN2 expressions. High Cripto-1 level in tumor was associated with poorer disease-free survival of HCC patients. Taken together, Cripto-1 binds to FZD7/LRP6 and DVL3, stabilizes DVL3 expression and activates the Wnt/β-catenin signaling cascade to confer stemness in HCC. Our study findings substantiated the role of Cripto-1 in determining stemness phenotypes of HCC and mechanistically in modulating the Wnt/β-catenin signaling cascade, one of the most frequently deregulated pathways in liver cancer.
ISSN: 1350-9047
EISSN: 1476-5403
DOI: 10.1038/s41418-018-0059-x
Rights: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is published with open access
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, which permits any non-commercial use, sharing, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, and provide a link to the Creative Commons license. You do not have permission under this license to share adapted material derived from this article or parts of it. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
The following publication Lo, R. C. -., Leung, C. O. -., Chan, K. K. -., Ho, D. W. -., Wong, C. -., Lee, T. K. -., & Ng, I. O. -. (2018). Cripto-1 contributes to stemness in hepatocellular carcinoma by stabilizing dishevelled-3 and activating wnt/β-catenin pathway. Cell Death and Differentiation, 25(8), 1426-1441 is available at
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