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Nat Cell Biol. 2004 Dec;6(12):1212-20. Epub 2004 Nov 14.

Non-canonical Wnt signals are modulated by the Kaiso transcriptional repressor and p120-catenin.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Gastrulation movements are critical for establishing the three principal germ layers and the basic architecture of vertebrate embryos. Although the individual molecules and pathways involved are not clearly understood, non-canonical Wnt signals are known to participate in developmental processes, including planar cell polarity and directed cell rearrangements. Here we demonstrate that the dual-specificity transcriptional repressor Kaiso, first identified in association with p120-catenin, is required for Xenopus gastrulation movements. In addition, depletion of xKaiso results in increased expression of the non-canonical xWnt11, which contributes to the xKaiso knockdown phenotype as it is significantly rescued by dominant-negative Wnt11. We further demonstrate that xWnt11 is a direct gene target of xKaiso and that p120-catenin association relieves xKaiso repression in vivo. Our results indicate that p120-catenin and Kaiso are essential components of a new developmental gene regulatory pathway that controls vertebrate morphogenesis.

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