Beta-catenin in the melanocyte lineage

Pigment Cell Res. 2003 Jun;16(3):312-7. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0749.2003.00050.x.


beta-Catenin is a multifunctional protein involved in cell-cell adhesion, intracellular signalling and gene transcription. It has been implicated in the development of various lineages, including neural crest derivatives. Melanocytes are derived from neural crest cells and beta-catenin is expressed throughout the development of this cell lineage. The multifunctional activity of beta-catenin is directly associated with its participation in multi protein-protein interactions. The cell-cell adhesion function of beta-catenin is mediated by the large cadherin cell adhesion molecule family, the intracellular signalling function by its interaction with GSK3beta, and the gene transcription activity by the four known LEF/TCF DNA binding-proteins. Here, we review the known beta-catenin interacting factors and targets involved in the development and transformation of melanocytes and in particular its role in the expression of the crucial gene of melanocyte development, Mitf.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Melanocytes / metabolism*
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MITF protein, human
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • beta Catenin