Frizzled-7 dictates three-dimensional organization of colorectal cancer cell carcinoids.
Progression of colorectal cancer (CRC) involves spatial and temporal occurrences of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), whereby tumour cells acquire a more invasive and metastatic phenotype. Subsequently, the disseminated mesenchymal tumour cells must undergo a reverse transition (mesenchymal-epithelial transition, MET) at the site of metastases, as most metastases recapitulate the pathology of their corresponding primary tumours. Importantly, initiation of tumour growth at the secondary site is the rate-limiting step in metastasis. However, investigation of this dynamic reversible EMT and MET that underpins CRC morphogenesis has been hindered by a lack of suitable in vitro models. To this end, we have established a unique in vitro model of CRC morphogenesis, which we term LIM1863-Mph (morphogenetic). LIM1863-Mph cells spontaneously undergo cyclic transitions between two-dimensional monolayer (migratory, mesenchymal) and three-dimensional sphere (carcinoid, epithelial) states. Using RNAi, we demonstrate that FZD7 is necessary for MET of the monolayer cells as loss of FZD7 results in the persistence of a mesenchymal state (increased SNAI2/decreased E-cadherin). Moreover, FZD7 is also required for migration of the LIM1863-Mph monolayer cells. During development, FZD7 orchestrates either migratory or epithelialization events depending on the context. Our findings strongly implicate similar functional diversity for FZD7 during CRC morphogenesis.