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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Aug 1;4(8):a007948. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a007948.

β-catenin-dependent Wnt signaling in C. elegans: teaching an old dog a new trick.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.


Wnt signaling is an evolutionarily ancient pathway used to regulate many events during metazoan development. Genetic results from Caenorhabditis elegans more than a dozen years ago suggested that Wnt signaling in this nematode worm might be different than in vertebrates and Drosophila: the worm had a small number of Wnts, too many β-catenins, and some Wnt pathway components functioned in an opposite manner than in other species. Work over the ensuing years has clarified that C. elegans does possess a canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway similar to that in other metazoans, but that the majority of Wnt signaling in this species may proceed via a variant Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway that uses some new components (mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling enzymes), and in which some conserved pathway components (β-catenin, T-cell factor [TCF]) are used in new and interesting ways. This review summarizes our current understanding of the canonical and novel TCF/β-catenin-dependent signaling pathways in C. elegans.

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