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Mol Cell. 2006 Oct 20;24(2):293-300.

Crystal structure of a beta-catenin/BCL9/Tcf4 complex.

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


The canonical Wnt pathway plays critical roles in embryonic development, stem cell growth, and tumorigenesis. Stimulation of the Wnt pathway leads to the association of beta-catenin with Tcf and BCL9 in the nucleus, resulting in the transactivation of Wnt target genes. We have determined the crystal structure of a beta-catenin/BCL9/Tcf-4 triple complex at 2.6 A resolution. Our studies reveal that the beta-catenin binding site of BCL9 is distinct from that of most other beta-catenin partners and forms a good target for developing drugs that block canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. The BCL9 beta-catenin binding domain (CBD) forms an alpha helix that binds to the first armadillo repeat of beta-catenin, which can be mutated to prevent beta-catenin binding to BCL9 without affecting cadherin or alpha-catenin binding. We also demonstrate that beta-catenin Y142 phosphorylation, which has been proposed to regulate BCL9-2 binding, does not directly affect the interaction of beta-catenin with either BCL9 or BCL9-2.

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