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Bioessays. 1999 Dec;21(12):1021-30.

beta-catenin signaling and cancer.

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Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Since its discovery as a protein associated with the cytoplasmic region of E-cadherin, beta-catenin has been shown to perform two apparently unrelated functions: it has a crucial role in cell-cell adhesion in addition to a signaling role as a component of the Wnt/wg pathway. Wnt/wg signaling results in beta-catenin accumulation and transcriptional activation of specific target genes during development. It is now apparent that deregulation of beta-catenin signaling is an important event in the genesis of a number of malignancies, such as colon cancer, melanoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, medulloblastoma pilomatricomas, and prostate cancer. beta-catenin mutations appear to be a crucial step in the progression of a subset of these cancers, suggesting an important role in the control of cellular proliferation or cell death. The APC/beta-catenin pathway is highly regulated and includes players such as GSK3-beta, CBP, Groucho, Axin, Conductin, and TCF. c-MYC and cyclin D1 were recently identified as a key transcriptional targets of this pathway and additional targets are likely to emerge. Published 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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