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Cancer: Leaping the E-cadherin hurdle


Aberrant activation of the Wnt signaling pathway is a common cause of colon cancer and other tumor types, accomplishing many of the hallmarks of cancer including sustained proliferative signaling, replicative immortality, reprogrammed metabolism, angiogenesis, and invasion. Yet, the dominant mutation that leads to chronic Wnt signaling in colon cancer is quite different from the spectrum of mutations that activate Wnt signaling in other tumor types. In this issue of The EMBO Journal, Huels et al.() focus on the influential role E-cadherin plays in shaping these differences. E-cadherin levels determine the barrier for aberrant β-catenin activation in colon cancer, providing an explanation for the different spectrum of mutations in the Wnt pathway associated with colon cancer as compared to other tumor types.

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