β-catenin (encoded by CTNNB1) is a subunit of the cell surface cadherin protein complex that acts as an intracellular signal transducer in the WNT signaling pathway; alterations in its activity have been associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma and other liver diseases. Other than WNT, additional signaling pathways also can converge at β-catenin. β-catenin also interacts with transcription factors such as T-cell factor, forkhead box protein O, and hypoxia inducible factor 1α to regulate the expression of target genes. We discuss the role of β-catenin in metabolic zonation of the adult liver. β-catenin also regulates the expression of genes that control metabolism of glucose, nutrients, and xenobiotics; alterations in its activity may contribute to the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Alterations in β-catenin signaling may lead to activation of hepatic stellate cells, which is required for fibrosis. Many hepatic tumors such as hepatocellular adenomas, hepatocellular cancers, and hepatoblastomas have mutations in CTNNB1 that result in constitutive activation of β-catenin, so this molecule could be a therapeutic target. We discuss how alterations in β-catenin activity contribute to liver disease and how these might be used in diagnosis and prognosis, as well as in the development of therapeutics.
Keywords: E-Cadherin; HCC; Liver Fibrosis; Liver Tumors; NASH; WNT; β-Catenin.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.