A Research Blog

A new way to control Wnt signalling

The overexpression of the enzyme ubiquitin specific peptidase 6 (USP6) has been observed in patients with aneurysmal bone cysts (ABC) and nodular fasciitis. How USP6 is involved in the manifestation of ABC and nodule fasciitis was not known, until now.

Credit: Ann-Marie Chacko

Asst Prof Babita Madan with Prof David Virshup, Director of the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School, in collaboration with researchers at University of North Carolina and University of Pennsylvania, discovered that USP6 overexpression increases sensitivity of a cell to Wnt activation. It does this by increasing the number of Wnt receptors, Frizzled (Fzd), on the cell surface. This finding not only identifies the disease mechanism for ABC and nodular fasciitis, but also provides a novel way for modulating Wnt signalling.

Cell growth and migration are some important cellular processes regulated by the Wnt pathway. That is why dysfunction in this pathway is implicated in many diseases such as cancer and, inflammatory and vascular diseases. It also means that the Wnt pathway is an attractive target for new therapies such as Singapore’s home-grown cancer therapy, ETC-159.

Specifically, the unique selling point of USP6 is that it provides researchers with a new way to control a cell’s sensitivity to Wnt activation without disrupting Wnt signalling directly. In this way, new therapies may be developed to adjust Wnt activation, rather than just turning it on or off.

You can read more about this study here.


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