A GSK3beta phosphorylation site in axin modulates interaction with beta-catenin and Tcf-mediated gene expression.
ABSTRACT Upon binding of a Wnt to its receptor, GSK3beta is inhibited through an unknown mechanism involving Dishevelled (Dsh), resulting in the dephosphorylation and stabilization of beta-catenin, which translocates to the nucleus and interacts with Lef/Tcf transcription factors to activate target gene expression. Axin is a scaffold protein which binds beta-catenin and GSK3beta (as well as several other proteins) and thus promotes the phosphorylation of beta-catenin. Here we report that Axin is phosphorylated on Ser and Thr residues in several regions in vivo, while only one region (amino acids 600-672) is efficiently phosphorylated by GSK3beta in vitro. Site-directed mutagenesis, together with in vitro and in vivo phosphorylation assays, demonstrates that Axin residues T609 and S614 are physiological GSK3beta targets. Substitutions for one or more of these residues, which lie within a beta-catenin binding site, reduce the ability of Axin to modulate Wnt-induced signaling in a Lef/Tcf reporter assay. These amino acid substitutions also reduce the binding between Axin and beta-catenin. We propose a model in which inhibition of GSK3beta activity upon Wnt signaling leads to the dephosphorylation of GSK3beta sites in Axin, resulting in the release of beta-catenin from the phosphorylation complex.
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ABSTRACT: Wnt/β-catenin signalling controls development and adult tissue homeostasis and causes cancer when inappropriately activated. In unstimulated cells, an Axin1-centred multi-protein complex phosphorylates the transcriptional co-activator β-catenin, marking it for degradation. Wnt signalling antagonizes β-catenin proteolysis, leading to its accumulation and target gene expression. How Wnt stimulation alters the size distribution, composition and activity of endogenous Axin1 complexes remains poorly understood. Here, we employed two-dimensional blue native/SDS-PAGE to analyse endogenous Axin1 and β-catenin complexes during Wnt signalling. We show that the size range of Axin1 complexes is conserved between species and remains largely unaffected by Wnt stimulation. We detect a striking Wnt-dependent, cytosolic accumulation of both non-phosphorylated and phosphorylated β-catenin within a 450 kDa Axin1-based complex and in a distinct, Axin1-free complex of 200 kDa. These results argue that during Wnt stimulation, phosphorylated β-catenin is released from the Axin1 complex but fails to undergo immediate degradation. Importantly, in APC-mutant cancer cells, the distribution of Axin1 and β-catenin complexes strongly resembles that of Wnt-stimulated cells. Our findings argue that Wnt signals and APC mutations interfere with the turnover of phosphorylated β-catenin. Furthermore, our results suggest that the accumulation of small-sized β-catenin complexes may serve as an indicator of Wnt pathway activity in primary cancer cells.Open Biology 11/2014; 4(11). DOI:10.1098/rsob.140120 · 4.56 Impact Factor