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Cell Rep. 2013 Sep 12;4(5):898-904. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.07.047. Epub 2013 Sep 5.

Selective small molecule targeting β-catenin function discovered by in vivo chemical genetic screen.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232, USA; College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766, USA.


The canonical Wnt signaling pathway, mediated by the transcription factor β-catenin, plays critical roles in embryonic development and represents an important therapeutic target. In a zebrafish-based in vivo screen for small molecules that specifically perturb embryonic dorsoventral patterning, we discovered a compound named windorphen that selectively blocks the Wnt signal required for ventral development. Windorphen exhibits remarkable specificity toward β-catenin-1 function, indicating that the two β-catenin isoforms found in zebrafish are not functionally redundant. We show that windorphen is a selective inhibitor of p300 histone acetyltransferase, a coactivator that associates with β-catenin. Finally, windorphen robustly and selectively kills cancer cells that harbor Wnt-activating mutations, supporting the therapeutic potential of this Wnt inhibitor class.

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