Regulation of Wnt/β-catenin signalling by tankyrase-dependent poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation and scaffolding

Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Dec;174(24):4611-4636. doi: 10.1111/bph.14038. Epub 2017 Nov 5.


The Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway is pivotal for stem cell function and the control of cellular differentiation, both during embryonic development and tissue homeostasis in adults. Its activity is carefully controlled through the concerted interactions of concentration-limited pathway components and a wide range of post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation, ubiquitylation, sumoylation, poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation (PARylation) and acetylation. Regulation of Wnt/β-catenin signalling by PARylation was discovered relatively recently. The PARP tankyrase PARylates AXIN1/2, an essential central scaffolding protein in the β-catenin destruction complex, and targets it for degradation, thereby fine-tuning the responsiveness of cells to the Wnt signal. The past few years have not only seen much progress in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which PARylation controls the pathway but also witnessed the successful development of tankyrase inhibitors as tool compounds and promising agents for the therapy of Wnt-dependent dysfunctions, including colorectal cancer. Recent work has hinted at more complex roles of tankyrase in Wnt/β-catenin signalling as well as challenges and opportunities in the development of tankyrase inhibitors. Here we review some of the latest advances in our understanding of tankyrase function in the pathway and efforts to modulate tankyrase activity to re-tune Wnt/β-catenin signalling in colorectal cancer cells.

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Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Poly ADP Ribosylation* / drug effects
  • Tankyrases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tankyrases / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway* / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Tankyrases