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Wnt-5a mRNA translation is suppressed by the Elav-like protein HuR in human breast epithelial cells

Leandersson, Karin, Riesbeck, Kristian, Andersson, Tommy
Nucleic acids research 2006 v.34 no.14 pp. 3988-3999
3' untranslated regions, breast neoplasms, breasts, cytoplasm, epithelial cells, humans, protein synthesis, translation (genetics)
Wnt-5a is a non-transforming Wnt protein. Since Wnt-5a mRNA and protein levels differ within and between tumours, the potential of Wnt-5a as a prognostic factor has been debated. We have previously shown that the lack of Wnt-5a protein is a predictor of shorter disease-free survival in human breast cancer. Recently, however, we also showed that the breast tumours lacking Wnt-5a protein had a high or normal level of Wnt-5a mRNA that might explain the discrepancies in previous studies. We here report that Wnt-5a is regulated at the post-transcriptional level. The regulation was mediated by the Embryonic Lethal Abnormal Vision (ELAV)-like protein HuR, which inhibited translation of Wnt-5a when bound to highly conserved AU-rich sequences in the 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) of the Wnt-5a mRNA molecule, as shown by both HA-tagged Wnt-5a- and Luciferase-Wnt-5a-3'-UTR reporter assays. The HuR-dependent inhibition of Wnt-5a was supported by the fact that active HuR is located in the cytoplasm in invasive human breast tumours and that hypoxia-induced activation of HuR inhibits translation of both Luciferase-Wnt-5a-3'-UTR and endogenous Wnt-5a protein. We propose that the lack of Wnt-5a protein expression in invasive human breast tumours is caused by a HuR-mediated suppression of Wnt-5a mRNA translation.