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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 8;276(23):20436-43. Epub 2001 Mar 13.

Regulation of beta-catenin structure and activity by tyrosine phosphorylation.

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  • 1Unitat de Biologia Cel.lular i Molecular, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, c/Dr. Aiguader 80, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.


beta-Catenin plays a dual role as a key effector in the regulation of adherens junctions and as a transcriptional coactivator. Phosphorylation of Tyr-654, a residue placed in the last armadillo repeat of beta-catenin, decreases its binding to E-cadherin. We show here that phosphorylation of Tyr-654 also stimulates the association of beta-catenin to the basal transcription factor TATA-binding protein. The structural bases of these different affinities were investigated. Our results indicate that the beta-catenin C-terminal tail interacts with the armadillo repeat domain, hindering the association of the armadillo region to the TATA-binding protein or to E-cadherin. Phosphorylation of beta-catenin Tyr-654 decreases armadillo-C-terminal tail association, uncovering the last armadillo repeats. In a C-terminal-depleted beta-catenin, the presence of a negative charge at Tyr-654 does not affect the interaction of the TATA-binding protein to the armadillo domain. However, in the case of E-cadherin, the establishment of ion pairs dominates its association with beta-catenin, and its binding is greatly dependent on the absence of a negative charge at Tyr-654. Thus, phosphorylation of Tyr-654 blocks the Ecadherin-beta-catenin interaction, even though the steric hindrance of the C-tail is no longer present. These results explain how phosphorylation of beta-catenin in Tyr-654 modifies the tertiary structure of this protein and the interaction with its different partners.

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