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Mol Cell. 2002 Sep;10(3):563-71.

The crystal structure of the beta-catenin/ICAT complex reveals the inhibitory mechanism of ICAT.

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Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Beta-catenin is a multifunctional protein involved in both cell adhesion and transcriptional activation. Transcription mediated by the beta-catenin/Tcf complex is involved in embryological development and is upregulated in various cancers. We have determined the crystal structure at 2.5 A resolution of a complex between beta-catenin and ICAT, a protein that prevents the interaction between beta-catenin and Tcf/Lef family transcription factors. ICAT contains a 3-helix bundle that binds armadillo repeats 10-12 and a C-terminal tail that, similar to Tcf and E-cadherin, binds in the groove formed by armadillo repeats 5-9 of beta-catenin. We show that ICAT selectively inhibits beta-catenin/Tcf binding in vivo, without disrupting beta-catenin/cadherin interactions. Thus, it should be possible to design cancer therapeutics that inhibit beta-catenin-mediated transcriptional activation without interfering with cell adhesion.

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