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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Nov 1;4(11). pii: a007906. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a007906.

TCF/LEFs and Wnt signaling in the nucleus.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48109-1048, USA.


T-cell factor/lymphoid enhancer factor (TCF/LEF) transcription factors are the major end point mediators of Wnt/Wingless signaling throughout metazoans. TCF/LEFs are multifunctional proteins that use their sequence-specific DNA-binding and context-dependent interactions to specify which genes will be regulated by Wnts. Much of the work to define their actions has focused on their ability to repress target gene expression when Wnt signals are absent and to recruit β-catenin to target genes for activation when Wnts are present. Recent advances have highlighted how these on/off actions are regulated by Wnt signals and stabilized β-catenin. In contrast to invertebrates, which typically contain one TCF/LEF protein that can both activate and repress Wnt targets, gene duplication and isoform complexity of the family in vertebrates have led to specialization, in which individual TCF/LEF isoforms have distinct activities.

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