The Role of the Wnt Pathway in Cancer Stem Cell Formation and the Opposing Function of Wnt Antagonists

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Alexander, Margaret Rose
Cancer stem cell; Wnt pathway; Wnt antagonists
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Cancer recurrence and metastasis highlight the plasticity of cancer, where cancer cells can drastically change their phenotypes. This plasticity is likely due to the presence of populations of cancer stem cells (CSCs) that have the ability to self-renew and create differentiated progeny (Reya et al., 2001). These abilities are regulated by the Wnt pathway, which acts at crucial points in cancer progression and influences the formation of CSCs. We can gain insight into how CSCs contribute to cancer plasticity by investigating the dysregulation of the Wnt pathway, which can be caused by the lack of inhibition of the pathway by Wnt antagonists. Wnt antagonists are promising anti-cancer therapeutics because of their role in inhibiting the Wnt pathway's formation of CSCs. However, more research is needed to determine their precise roles. This review focuses on the Wnt pathway's role in the formation of CSCs, how the lack of Wnt antagonists leads to increased Wnt signaling, and why these antagonists are promising anti-cancer therapeutics.