Disrupted WNT signaling may be a cause of cancer
The name WNT encompasses a large family of signaling proteins, which control and affect a large number of cellular processes. The WNT signals are active in many different contexts, both during early stages of development and during growth and tissue regeneration. Unlike most other growth factors, the WNT proteins are mostly active in the vicinity of the cell. They are thus for the most part passing signals locally, between adjacent cells. The signaling often directly determines the movement and proliferation of cells, and thereby how tissues form and grow.
One particular kind of WNT signaling has been linked to the regulation of stem cells. Mutations in WNT genes or in WNT-controlled signaling pathways give rise to specific development errors. In various pathologies such as cancer, changes in WNT signaling has been linked to both the origin and development of tumour disease.