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Trends Cell Biol. 2007 Oct;17(10):465-73. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

Two betas or not two betas: regulation of asymmetric division by beta-catenin.

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Laboratory for Cell Fate Decision, Riken, Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe 650-0047, Japan.


In various organisms, cells divide asymmetrically to produce distinct daughter cells. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, asymmetric division is controlled by the asymmetric activity of a Wnt signaling pathway (the Wnt/beta-catenin asymmetry pathway). In this process, two specialized beta-catenin homologs have crucial roles in the transmission of Wnt signals to the asymmetric activity of a T-cell factor (TCF)-type transcription factor, POP-1, in the daughter cells. One beta-catenin homolog regulates the distinct nuclear level of POP-1, and the other functions as a coactivator of POP-1. Both beta-catenins localize asymmetrically in the daughter nuclei using different mechanisms. The recent discovery of reiterative nuclear asymmetries of a highly conserved beta-catenin in an annelid suggests that similar molecular mechanisms might regulate asymmetric cell divisions in other organisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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