Endocytosis: a positive or a negative influence on Wnt signalling?

Traffic. 2008 Jan;9(1):1-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2007.00662.x. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


Endocytosis, with subsequent targeting to lysosomes for degradation, is traditionally seen as a way for cells to terminate signalling. However, in a few instances, endocytosis has been demonstrated to contribute positively to signalling. Here we review recent work on the role of endocytosis in Wnt signalling. Biochemical evidence suggests that the branch of Wnt signalling that controls planar cell polarity (PCP) does require endocytosis, although how endocytosis of Frizzled receptors is translated into PCP in vivo remains unknown. With respect to the main signalling branch (called the canonical or beta-catenin pathway), the literature is divided as to whether endocytosis is required. Results of in vivo experiments are inconclusive because of the toxic side-effects of blocking endocytosis. Some results with cultured cells suggest the need for endocytosis in canonical signalling; however, it remains unclear whether the ligand-receptor complex must enter the cell by clathrin-mediated or caveolae-mediated endocytosis in order to signal. Means of specifically altering Wnt trafficking as well as of tracking the internalization route in different cell types are needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Protein Transport
  • Signal Transduction
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*


  • Wnt Proteins