Biochemical interactions in the wnt pathway

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Feb 2;1495(2):168-82. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4889(99)00158-5.


The wnt signal transduction pathway is involved in many differentiation events during embryonic development and can lead to tumor formation after aberrant activation of its components. The cytoplasmic component beta-catenin is central to the transmission of wnt signals to the nucleus: in the absence of wnts beta-catenin is constitutively degraded in proteasomes, whereas in the presence of wnts beta-catenin is stabilized and associates with HMG box transcription factors of the LEF/TCF family. In tumors, beta-catenin degradation is blocked by mutations of the tumor suppressor gene APC (adenomatous polyposis coli), or of beta-catenin itself. As a consequence, constitutive TCF/beta-catenin complexes are formed and activate oncogenic target genes. This review discusses the mechanisms that silence the pathway in cells that do not receive a wnt signal and goes on to describe the regulatory steps involved in the activation of the pathway.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis Proteins*
  • Axin Protein
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Dishevelled Proteins
  • Genes, APC
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins*
  • beta Catenin


  • AXIN2 protein, human
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Axin Protein
  • Axin2 protein, mouse
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, mouse
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Dishevelled Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Protein Kinases
  • CKI1 protein, Arabidopsis