Role of β-Catenin Activation Levels and Fluctuations in Controlling Cell Fate

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Cells have developed numerous adaptation mechanisms to external cues by controlling signaling-pathway activity, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The Wnt/β-catenin pathway is a highly conserved signaling pathway involved in many biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, somatic cell reprogramming, development, and cancer. The activity of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and the temporal dynamics of its effector β-catenin are tightly controlled by complex regulations. The latter encompass feedback loops within the pathway (e.g., a negative feedback loop involving Axin2, a β-catenin transcriptional target) and crosstalk interactions with other signaling pathways. Here, we provide a review shedding light on the coupling between Wnt/β-catenin activation levels and fluctuations across processes and cellular systems; in particular, we focus on development, in vitro pluripotency maintenance, and cancer. Possible mechanisms originating Wnt/β-catenin dynamic behaviors and consequently driving different cellular responses are also reviewed, and new avenues for future research are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number176
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • Cancer
  • Canonical Wnt pathway
  • Development
  • Pluripotency
  • Signaling dynamics
  • β-catenin

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