Beta-catenin-mediated cell-adhesion is vital for embryonic forebrain development

Dev Dyn. 2005 Jun;233(2):528-39. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.20365.


Forming a complex structure such as the mammalian brain requires a complex interplay between cells and different signalling cascades during embryonic development. beta-catenin plays pivotal roles in these processes by mediating cadherin-based cell adhesion and Wnt signalling. We show for the first time that beta-catenin functions predominantly as a mediator of cell adhesion during early development of the mammalian telencephalon. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrates that beta-catenin is localized, together with N-cadherin, to adhesion junctions at the apical lining of the neuroepithelium. The ablation of beta-catenin specifically from the forebrain leads to a disruption of apical adherens junctions and a breakdown of neuroepithelial structures. We show that beta-catenin-deficient neuroepithelial cells delaminate and undergo apoptosis. Newborn beta-catenin mutants lack the entire forebrain and anterior facial structures. Our data also indicate a lack of TCF/LEF-beta-catenin-dependent transcriptional activity in the telencephalon of Wnt reporter embryos. Together with the absence of nuclear beta-catenin, this finding suggests that canonical Wnt signalling is not active during early telencephalic development. In summary, we demonstrate that beta-catenin mediates cell-cell adhesion in the early telencephalon and is vital for maintaining the structural integrity of the neuroepithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neuroepithelial Cells / cytology
  • Neuroepithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Prosencephalon / abnormalities
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / embryology*
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism*
  • Telencephalon / cytology
  • Telencephalon / embryology
  • Telencephalon / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, mouse
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin