Dr. Monga and colleagues published a review article in Cancers (Basel), entitled, “β-Catenin Activation in Hepatocellular Cancer: Implications in Biology and Therapy.” Dr. Aatur Singhi, PLRC member and director of CBRPC also contributed to this article.

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Krutsenko Y, Singhi AD, Monga SP. β-Catenin Activation in Hepatocellular Cancer: Implications in Biology and Therapy. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 12;13(8):1830. doi: 10.3390/cancers13081830. PMID: 33921282; PMCID: PMC8069637.

Paul Monga, MD
Aatur D. Singhi, MD, PhD


Hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common primary liver tumor, has been gradually growing in incidence globally. The whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing of HCC has led to an improved understanding of the molecular drivers of this tumor type. Activation of the Wnt signaling pathway, mostly due to stabilizing missense mutations in its downstream effector β-catenin (encoded by CTNNB1) or loss-of-function mutations in AXIN1 (the gene which encodes for Axin-1, an essential protein for β-catenin degradation), are seen in a major subset of HCC. Because of the important role of β-catenin in liver pathobiology, its role in HCC has been extensively investigated. In fact, CTNNB1 mutations have been shown to have a trunk role. β-Catenin has been shown to play an important role in regulating tumor cell proliferation and survival and in tumor angiogenesis, due to a host of target genes regulated by the β-catenin transactivation of its transcriptional factor TCF. Proof-of-concept preclinical studies have shown β-catenin to be a highly relevant therapeutic target in CTNNB1-mutated HCCs. More recently, studies have revealed a unique role of β-catenin activation in regulating both tumor metabolism as well as the tumor immune microenvironment. Both these roles have notable implications for the development of novel therapies for HCC. Thus, β-catenin has a pertinent role in driving HCC development and maintenance of this tumor-type, and could be a highly relevant therapeutic target in a subset of HCC cases.