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Dev Biol. 2009 Apr 15;328(2):234-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.01.017. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

The N- or C-terminal domains of DSH-2 can activate the C. elegans Wnt/beta-catenin asymmetry pathway.

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Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, University of Wisconsin, USA.


Dishevelleds are modular proteins that lie at the crossroads of divergent Wnt signaling pathways. The DIX domain of dishevelleds modulates a beta-catenin destruction complex, and thereby mediates cell fate decisions through differential activation of Tcf transcription factors. The DEP domain of dishevelleds mediates planar polarity of cells within a sheet through regulation of actin modulators. In Caenorhabditis elegans asymmetric cell fate decisions are regulated by asymmetric localization of signaling components in a pathway termed the Wnt/beta-catenin asymmetry pathway. Which domain(s) of Disheveled regulate this pathway is unknown. We show that C. elegans embryos from dsh-2(or302) mutant mothers fail to successfully undergo morphogenesis, but transgenes containing either the DIX or the DEP domain of DSH-2 are sufficient to rescue the mutant phenotype. Embryos lacking zygotic function of SYS-1/beta-catenin, WRM-1/beta-catenin, or POP-1/Tcf show defects similar to dsh-2 mutants, including a loss of asymmetry in some cell fate decisions. Removal of two dishevelleds (dsh-2 and mig-5) leads to a global loss of POP-1 asymmetry, which can be rescued by addition of transgenes containing either the DIX or DEP domain of DSH-2. These results indicate that either the DIX or DEP domain of DSH-2 is capable of activating the Wnt/beta-catenin asymmetry pathway and regulating anterior-posterior fate decisions required for proper morphogenesis.

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