Developmental functions of XKaiso, a transcriptional repressor associating with the p120 catenin in Xenopus laevis

Si Wan Kim, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The Armadillo family catenin proteins function in multiple capacities including cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and nuclear signaling. The newest catenin, p120 catenin, differs from the classical catenins and binds to the membrane-proximal domain of cadherins. Recently, a novel transcription factor Kaiso was found to interact with p120 catenin, suggesting that p120 catenin also possesses a nuclear function. We isolated the Xenopus homolog of Kaiso, XKaiso, from a Xenopus stage 17 cDNA library. XKaiso contains an amino-terminal BTB/POZ domain and three carboxyl-terminal zinc fingers. The XKaiso transcript was present maternally and expressed throughout early embryonic development. XKaiso's spatial expression was defined via in situ hybridization and was found localized to the brain, eye, ear, branchial arches, and spinal cord. Co-immunoprecipitation of Xenopus p120 catenin and XKaiso demonstrated their mutual association, while related experiments employing differentially epitope-tagged XKaiso constructs suggest that XKaiso also self-associates. On the functional level, reporter assays employing a chimera of XKaiso fused to the GAL4 DNA binding domain indicated that XKaiso is a transcriptional repressor. To better understand the significance of the Kaiso-p120 catenin complex in vertebrate development, Kaiso knock-down experiments were undertaken, and the modulatory role of p120 catenin in Kaiso function examined during Xenopus development. Using morpholino antisense oligonucleotides to block translation of XKaiso, XKaiso was found to be essential for Xenopus gastrulation, being required for correct morphogenetic movements in early embryogenesis. Molecular marker analyses indicated that one target gene of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, Siamois, is significantly increased in embryos depleted for XKaiso, while other dorsal, ventral, and mesodermal cell fate markers were unaltered. In addition, the non-canonical Wnt-11, known to participate in planar cell polarity/convergent extension processes, was significantly upregulated following depletion of XKaiso. Such increased Wnt-11 expression likely contributed to the XKaiso depletion phenotype because a dominant negative form of Wnt-11 or of the downstream effector Dishevelled partially rescued the observed gastrulation defects. These results show that XKaiso is essential for proper gastrulation movements, resulting at least in part from its modulation of non-canonical Wnt signaling. The significance of the XKaiso-p120 catenin interaction has yet to be determined, but appears to include a role in modulating genes promoting canonical and non-canonical Wnt signals.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Kim, Si Wan, "Developmental functions of XKaiso, a transcriptional repressor associating with the p120 catenin in Xenopus laevis" (2003). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3115907.