Frizzled receptor 6 marks rare, highly tumourigenic stem-like cells in mouse and human neuroblastomas

Sandra Cantilena, Fabio Pastorino, Annalisa Pezzolo, Olesya Chayka, Vito Pistoia, Mirco Ponzoni, Arturo Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wnt signalling is an important component of vertebrate development, required for specification of the neural crest. Ten Wnt receptors [Frizzled receptor 1-10 (Fzd1-10)] have been identified so far, some of which are expressed in the developing nervous system and the neural crest. Here we show that expression of one such receptors, Fzd6, predicts poor survival in neuroblastoma patients and marks rare, HIF1/2 α-positive cells in tumour hypoxic areas. Fzd6 positive neuroblastoma cells form neurospheres with high efficiency, are resistant to doxorubicin killing and express high levels of mesenchymal markers such as Twist1 and Notch1. Expression of Fzd6 is required for the expression of genes of the noncanonical Wnt pathway and the spheres forming activity. When transplanted into immunodeficient mice, neuroblastoma cells expressing the Fzd6 marker grow more aggressively than their Fzd6 negative counterparts. We conclude that Fzd6 is a new surface marker of aggressive neuroblastoma cells with stem cell-like features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-983
Number of pages8
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • HIF
  • Hypoxia
  • Metastasis
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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