Linking Adhesion and Transcription

Science's STKE  25 Mar 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 175, pp. tw116-TW116
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.175.tw116

The molecule β-catenin functions in both cell-cell adhesion, through its association with the cadherin family of membrane proteins, and in transcription, through its association with Lef1 transcription complexes. It thus seems poised to modulate gene expression in response to cell junction remodeling during morphogenesis. Jamora et al. report that this is indeed the case in the early steps of epithelial bud formation. During this stage of skin development, ectodermal cells receive instruction from adjacent tissues to reorient and form a bud. This process correlates with increased Wnt/β-catenin signaling and decreased expression of E-cadherin. The authors observed increased β-catenin stability and Lef1 expression when mouse keratinocytes were treated with both exogenous Wnt and noggin, another soluble morphogen. The E-cadherin gene, which harbors a Lef1 binding site in its promoter region, was repressed by noggin-induced Lef1. Transgenic mice expressing constitutively stable β-catenin or elevated E-cadherin exhibited increased or decreased hair follicle formation, respectively. This connection between adhesive complexes and gene expression may be relevant to other processes of organogenesis requiring cell rearrangement.

C. Jamora, R. DasGupta, P. Kocieniewski, E. Fuchs, Links between signal transduction, transcription and adhesion in epithelial bud development. Nature 422, 317-322 (2003). [Online Journal]