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Biochemistry. 2006 Apr 25;45(16):5319-23.

Threonine 41 in beta-catenin serves as a key phosphorylation relay residue in beta-catenin degradation.

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Division of Neuroscience, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Beta-catenin phosphorylation at serine 45 (Ser45), threonine 41 (Thr41), Ser37, and Ser33 is critical for beta-catenin degradation, and regulation of beta-catenin phosphorylation is a central part of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. Beta-catenin mutations at Ser45, Thr41, Ser37, and Ser33 perturb beta-catenin degradation and are frequently found in cancers. It is established that Ser45 phosphorylation by casein kinase I (CKI) initiates phosphorylation at Thr41, Ser37, and Ser33 by glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) and that phosphorylated Ser37 and Ser33 are recognized by the F-box protein beta-TrCP, a component of a ubiquitin ligase complex that mediates beta-catenin degradation. While the roles of Ser45, Ser37, and Ser33 are well documented, the function of Thr41 remains less defined. Here we show that Thr41 strictly acts as a phosphorylation relay residue and that the Ser-X-X-X-Ser (X is any amino acid) motif is obligatory for beta-catenin phosphorylation by GSK3. Beta-catenin phosphorylation/degradation and its regulation by Wnt can occur normally in the absence of Thr41 as long as the Ser-X-X-X-Ser motif/spacing is preserved. These results suggest that Thr41 functions to bridge sequential phosphorylation from Ser45 to Ser37 and provide further insights into the discrete steps and logic in beta-catenin phosphorylation-degradation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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