Wnts control membrane potential in mammalian cancer cells
The journal of physiology
The Wnt signalling network determines gene transcription with free intracellular Ca2+ () and β‐catenin as major intracellular signal transducers. Despite its critical importance during development and disease, many of the basic mechanisms of Wnt signal activation remain unclear. Here we show by single cell recording and simultaneous imaging in mammalian prostate cancer cells that an early step in the signal cascade is direct action on the cell membrane potential. We show that Wnt ligands 5A, 9B and 10B rapidly hyperpolarized the cells by activating K+ current by Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. Medium‐throughput multi‐well recordings showed responses to Wnts at concentrations of 2 nm. We identify a putative target for early events as a TRPM channel. Wnts thus act as ligands for ion channel activation in mammalian cells and membrane potential is an early indicator of control of transcription.