Wnt proteins are involved in a large number of events during development and disease. The crucial element in the transduction of the signal elicited by Wnt is the state and activity of beta-catenin. There are two pools of beta-catenin, one associated with cadherins at the cell surface and a soluble one in the cytolasm, whose state and concentration are critical for Wnt signalling. In the absence of Wnt, the cytoplasmic pool is low due to targetted degradation of beta-catenin. Upon Wnt signalling, beta-catenin is stabilized. As a consequence, it can access the nucleus where it interacts with members of the Tcf family of transcription factors to modulate the expression of defined targets. Recent reports indicate that, in addition to Tcfs, beta-catenin can interact with other nuclear proteins raising the possibility that Wnt signalling has a wider modulatory effect on transcription than is mediated by its interactions with Tcfs. BioEssays 23:311-318, 2001.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.