PloS one

FOXQ1, a novel target of the Wnt pathway and a new marker for activation of Wnt signaling in solid tumors.

PMID 23555880


The forkhead box transcription factor FOXQ1 has been shown to be upregulated in colorectal cancer (CRC) and metastatic breast cancer and involved in tumor development, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and chemoresistance. Yet, its transcriptional regulation is still unknown. FOXQ1 mRNA and protein expression were analysed in a panel of CRC cell lines, and laser micro-dissected human biopsy samples by qRT-PCR, microarray GeneChip® U133 Plus 2.0 and western blots. FOXQ1 regulation was assayed by chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter assays. FOXQ1 was robustly induced in CRC compared to other tumors, but had no predictive value with regards to grade, metastasis and survival in CRC. Prototype-based gene coexpression and gene set enrichment analysis showed a significant association between FOXQ1 and the Wnt pathway in tumors and cancer cell lines from different tissues. In vitro experiments confirmed, on a molecular level, FOXQ1 as a direct Wnt target. Analysis of known Wnt targets identified FOXQ1 as the most suitable marker for canonical Wnt activation across a wide panel of cell lines derived from different tissues. Our data show that FOXQ1 is one of the most over-expressed genes in CRC and a direct target of the canonical Wnt pathway. It is a potential new marker for detection of early CRC and Wnt activation in tumors of different origins.