The p120-catenin/Kaiso signaling pathway

Jae-il Park, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling pathways appear to interact with one another as a network in development, or when hyper-activated, in the progression of disease. A much studied key mediator of the canonical Wnt pathway, β-catenin, is characterized by a central armadillo-repeat domain that engages in multiple protein-protein interactions, such as those with cadherins functioning at cell-cell contact regions. In the nucleus, β-catenin forms a complex with the repressor TCF/LEF, promoting the activation of genes participating in processes such as proliferation, differentiation and stem cell survival. Somewhat similarly, the p120-catenin binds the distinct transcriptional repressor Kaiso, relieving Kaiso-mediated repression to promote gene activation. Here, employing Xenopus laevis, I report upon both downstream and upstream aspects of the p120-catenin/Kaiso pathway which was previously poorly understood. I first show that Kaiso, a BTB/POZ zinc-finger family member, directly represses canonical Wnt gene targets (Siamois, c-Fos, Cyclin-D1 and c-Myc) in conjunction with TCF. Depletion or dominant-negative inhibition of xKaiso results in Siamois de-repression, while xKaiso over-expression induces additional Siamois repression through recruitment of N-CoR co-repressor and chromatin modifications. Functional interdependencies are further corroborated by the capacity of Kaiso to suppress β-catenin-induced axis duplication. Thus, my work inter-relates the p120-catenin/Kaiso and β-catenin/TCF pathways at the level of specific gene promoters important in development and cancer progression. Regarding upstream aspects of the p120-catenin/Kaiso pathway, I collaboratively identified p120 in association with Frodo, a protein previously identified as a component of the canonical (β-catenin dependent) Wnt pathway. I determined that canonical Wnt signals result in Frodo-mediated stabilization of p120-catenin, resulting in the sequestration of Kaiso to the cytoplasm and thereby the activation (relief of repression) of gene targets. Developmental evidence supporting this view included findings that Frodo has the capacity to partially rescue Kaiso over-expression phenotypes in early Xenopus embryos. Taken together, my studies point to the convergence of p120-catenin/Kaiso and β-catenin/TCF signaling pathways at the level of gene transcription as well as at more upstream points during vertebrate development.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Park, Jae-il, "The p120-catenin/Kaiso signaling pathway" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3231747.