Balancing cell adhesion and Wnt signaling, the key role of beta-catenin

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2006 Feb;16(1):51-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2005.12.007. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


Controlled regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation is essential for embryonic development and requires the coordinated regulation of cell-cell adhesion and gene transcription. The armadillo repeat protein beta-catenin is an important integrator of both processes. Beta-catenin acts in the Wnt signaling pathway, activating the transcription of crucial target genes responsible for cellular proliferation and differentiation. Beta-catenin also controls E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion at the plasma membrane and mediates the interplay of adherens junction molecules with the actin cytoskeleton. Both functions of beta-catenin are de-regulated in human malignancies, thereby leading both to the loss of cell-cell adhesion and to the increased transcription of Wnt target genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Proteins / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogenes
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tyrosine / chemistry
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / chemistry
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / physiology*


  • BCL9 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Tyrosine