TCF/LEF factor earn their wings

Trends Genet. 1997 Dec;13(12):485-9. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(97)01305-x.


Factors of the TCF/LEF HMG domain family (TCFs) exist in vertebrates, Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. It has very recently become evident that TCFs interact with the vertebrate WNT effector beta-catenin to mediate axis formation in Xenopus. Likewise, Armadillo (the Drosophila ortholog of beta-catenin) is genetically upstream of a Drosophila TCF in the Wingless pathway. Upon Wingless/Wnt signaling, Armadillo/beta-catenin associate with nuclear TCFs and contribute a trans-activation domain to the resulting bipartite transcription factor. The cytoplasmic tumor-suppressor protein APC binds to beta-catenin causing its destruction. In APC-deficient colon carcinoma cells, beta-catenin accumulates and is constitutively complexed with TCF factors. In APC-positive colon carcinomas and melanomas, dominant mutations in beta-catenin render it indestructable, providing an alternative mechanism to activate transcription of TCF target genes inappropriately. So, transcriptional activation of TCF target genes by beta-catenin appears to be a central event in development and cellular transformation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins
  • Binding Sites
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1
  • Mammals / growth & development
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Xenopus / genetics
  • Xenopus / growth & development
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • beta Catenin


  • ARM protein, Drosophila
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins
  • CTNNB1 protein, Xenopus
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • beta Catenin