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Nature. 2002 Jun 6;417(6889):664-7. Epub 2002 May 26.

Kremen proteins are Dickkopf receptors that regulate Wnt/beta-catenin signalling.

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  • 1Molecular Embryology Division, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The Wnt family of secreted glycoproteins mediate cell cell interactions during cell growth and differentiation in both embryos and adults. Canonical Wnt signalling by way of the beta-catenin pathway is transduced by two receptor families. Frizzled proteins and lipoprotein-receptor-related proteins 5 and 6 (LRP5/6) bind Wnts and transmit their signal by stabilizing intracellular beta-catenin. Wnt/beta-catenin signalling is inhibited by the secreted protein Dickkopf1 (Dkk1), a member of a multigene family, which induces head formation in amphibian embryos. Dkk1 has been shown to inhibit Wnt signalling by binding to and antagonizing LRP5/6. Here we show that the transmembrane proteins Kremen1 and Kremen2 are high-affinity Dkk1 receptors that functionally cooperate with Dkk1 to block Wnt/beta-catenin signalling. Kremen2 forms a ternary complex with Dkk1 and LRP6, and induces rapid endocytosis and removal of the Wnt receptor LRP6 from the plasma membrane. The results indicate that Kremen1 and Kremen2 are components of a membrane complex modulating canonical Wnt signalling through LRP6 in vertebrates.

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