Two betas or not two betas: regulation of asymmetric division by beta-catenin

Trends Cell Biol. 2007 Oct;17(10):465-73. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2007.08.004. Epub 2007 Oct 4.


In various organisms, cells divide asymmetrically to produce distinct daughter cells. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, asymmetric division is controlled by the asymmetric activity of a Wnt signaling pathway (the Wnt/beta-catenin asymmetry pathway). In this process, two specialized beta-catenin homologs have crucial roles in the transmission of Wnt signals to the asymmetric activity of a T-cell factor (TCF)-type transcription factor, POP-1, in the daughter cells. One beta-catenin homolog regulates the distinct nuclear level of POP-1, and the other functions as a coactivator of POP-1. Both beta-catenins localize asymmetrically in the daughter nuclei using different mechanisms. The recent discovery of reiterative nuclear asymmetries of a highly conserved beta-catenin in an annelid suggests that similar molecular mechanisms might regulate asymmetric cell divisions in other organisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Division*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • TCF Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • Sys-1 protein, C elegans
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • WRM-1 protein, C elegans
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin