The β-catenin transcriptional coactivator is the key mediator of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. In the absence of Wnt, β-catenin associates with a cytosolic and multi-protein destruction complex where it is phosphorylated and targeted for proteasomal degradation. In the presence of Wnt, the destruction complex is inactivated and β-catenin translocates into the nucleus. In the nucleus, β-catenin binds T-cell factor (TCF) transcription factors to activate expression of c-MYC (MYC) and Axis inhibition protein 2 (AXIN2). AXIN2 is a member of the destruction complex and, thus, serves in a negative feedback loop to control Wnt/β-catenin signaling. AXIN2 is also present in the nucleus, but its function within this compartment is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that AXIN2 localizes to the nuclei of epithelial cells within normal and colonic tumor tissues as well as colorectal cancer cell lines. In the nucleus, AXIN2 represses expression of Wnt/β-catenin-responsive luciferase reporters and forms a complex with β-catenin and TCF. We demonstrate that AXIN2 co-occupies β-catenin/TCF complexes at the MYC promoter region. When constitutively localized to the nucleus, AXIN2 alters the chromatin structure at the MYC promoter and directly represses MYC gene expression. These findings suggest that nuclear AXIN2 functions as a rheostat to control MYC expression in response to Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Keywords: APC; AXIN; AXIN2; Axis inhibition protein; CRC; MYC; T-cell factor; TCF; Transcription; WRE; Wnt; Wnt responsive enhancer; adenomatous polyposis coli; colorectal cancer; β-Catenin.
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