Wntless (GPR177) protein is a newly identified regulator of Wnt signals in Drosophila, but its cellular function in mammals is still unclear. In this study, we explored the expression pattern and potential cellular function of Wntless in mammalian cells. Wntless mRNA was expressed in many mouse tissues, including the spleen, lung, kidney, thymus, and stomach, and lower levels of expression were detected in the mouse brain and testis. Expression of Wntless protein analyzed by Western blot and immunohistochemical staining was only detected in the submucosa, muscle, ganglia, and nerve cells of murine large intestines. Both immunofluorescence staining and subcellular fraction extraction analysis revealed that endogenous Wntless protein was expressed predominantly in the cytoplasmic organelles with a morphologically dot-shaped distribution. Furthermore, overexpression of Wntless could be corrected by and may activate the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway in cancer (HeLa) cells. These results suggest that Wntless plays a role in signaling regulation during the formation of cancer in addition to its role as a retromer protein in mammalian systems.
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