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LGR5 regulates pro-survival MEK/ERK and proliferative Wnt/?-catenin signalling in neuroblastoma

Vieira, Gabriella Cunha; Chockalingam, S.; Melegh, Zsombor; Greenhough, Alexander; Malik, Sally; Szemes, Marianna; Park, Ji Hyun; Kaidi, Abderrahmane; Zhou, Li; Catchpoole, Daniel; Morgan, Rhys; Bates, David O.; Gabb, Peter David; Malik, Karim

LGR5 regulates pro-survival MEK/ERK and proliferative Wnt/?-catenin signalling in neuroblastoma Thumbnail


Gabriella Cunha Vieira

S. Chockalingam

Zsombor Melegh

Sally Malik

Marianna Szemes

Ji Hyun Park

Abderrahmane Kaidi

Li Zhou

Daniel Catchpoole

Rhys Morgan

David O. Bates

Peter David Gabb

Karim Malik


LGR5 is a marker of normal and cancer stem cells in various tissues where it functions as a receptor for R-spondins and increases canonical Wnt signalling amplitude. Here we report that LGR5 is also highly expressed in a subset of high grade neuroblastomas. Neuroblastoma is a clinically heterogenous paediatric cancer comprising a high proportion of poor prognosis cases (~40%) which are frequently lethal. Unlike many cancers, Wnt pathway mutations are not apparent in neuroblastoma, although previous microarray analyses have implicated deregulated Wnt signalling in high-risk neuroblastoma. We demonstrate that LGR5 facilitates high Wnt signalling in neuroblastoma cell lines treated with Wnt3a and R-spondins, with SK-N-BE(2)-C, SK-N-NAS and SH-SY5Y cell-lines all displaying strong Wnt induction. These lines represent MYCN-amplified, NRAS and ALK mutant neuroblastoma subtypes respectively. Wnt3a/R-Spondin treatment also promoted nuclear translocation of ?-catenin, increased proliferation and activation of Wnt target genes. Strikingly, short-interfering RNA mediated knockdown of LGR5 induces dramatic Wntindependent apoptosis in all three cell-lines, accompanied by greatly diminished phosphorylation of mitogen/extracellular signal-regulated kinases (MEK1/2) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2), and an increase of BimEL, an apoptosis facilitator downstream of ERK. Akt signalling is also decreased by a Rictor dependent, PDK1-independent mechanism. LGR5 expression is cell cycle regulated and LGR5 depletion triggers G1 cell-cycle arrest, increased p27 and decreased phosphorylated retinoblastoma protein. Our study therefore characterises new cancer-associated pathways regulated by LGR5, and suggest that targeting of LGR5 may be of therapeutic benefit for neuroblastomas with diverse etiologies, as well as other cancers expressing high LGR5.


Vieira, G. C., Chockalingam, S., Melegh, Z., Greenhough, A., Malik, S., Szemes, M., …Malik, K. (2015). LGR5 regulates pro-survival MEK/ERK and proliferative Wnt/β-catenin signalling in neuroblastoma. Oncotarget, 6(37), 40053-40067.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2015
Online Publication Date Oct 23, 2015
Publication Date Nov 24, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2019
Journal Oncotarget
Print ISSN 1949-2553
Electronic ISSN 1949-2553
Publisher Impact Journals
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 37
Pages 40053-40067
Keywords neuroblastoma, LGR5, Wnt/?-catenin, MEK/ERK, cell survival
Public URL
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