The serine/threonine kinase Xgsk-3 and the intracellular protein beta-catenin are necessary for the establishment of the dorsal-ventral axis in Xenopus. Although genetic evidence from Drosophila indicates that Xgsk-3 is upstream of beta-catenin, direct interactions between these proteins have not been demonstrated. We demonstrate that phosphorylation of beta-catenin in vivo requires an in vitro amino-terminal Xgsk-3 phosphorylation site, which is conserved in the Drosophila protein armadillo. beta-catenin mutants lacking this site are more active in inducing an ectopic axis in Xenopus embryos and are more stable than wild-type beta-catenin in the presence of Xgsk-3 activity, supporting the hypothesis that Xgsk-3 is a negative regulator of beta-catenin that acts through the amino-terminal site. Inhibition of endogenous Xgsk-3 function with a dominant-negative mutant leads to an increase in the steady-state levels of ectopic beta-catenin, indicating that Xgsk-3 functions to destabilize beta-catenin and thus decrease the amount of beta-catenin available for signaling. The levels of endogenous beta-catenin in the nucleus increases in the presence of the dominant-negative Xgsk-3 mutant, suggesting that a role of Xgsk-3 is to regulate the steady-state levels of beta-catenin within specific subcellular compartments. These studies provide a basis for understanding the interaction between Xgsk-3 and beta-catenin in the establishment of the dorsal-ventral axis in early Xenopus embryos.
SciCrunch is a data sharing and display platform. Anyone can create a custom portal where they can select searchable subsets of hundreds of data sources, brand their web pages and create their community. SciCrunch will push data updates automatically to all portals on a weekly basis. User communities can also add their own data to scicrunch, however this is not currently a free service.