Bioessays 40 (2):1700162 (2018)

Many targets of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway are regulated by TCF transcription factors, which play important roles in animal development, stem cell biology, and oncogenesis. TCFs can regulate Wnt targets through a “transcriptional switch,” repressing gene expression in unstimulated cells and promoting transcription upon Wnt signaling. However, it is not clear whether this switch mechanism is a general feature of Wnt gene regulation or limited to a subset of Wnt targets. Co-repressors of the TLE family are known to contribute to the repression of Wnt targets in the absence of signaling, but how they are inactivated or displaced by Wnt signaling is poorly understood. In this mini-review, we discuss several recent reports that address the prevalence and molecular mechanisms of the Wnt transcription switch, including the finding of Wnt-dependent ubiquitination/inactivation of TLEs. Together, these findings highlight the growing complexity of the regulation of gene expression by the Wnt pathway. Wnt targets are regulated by a “switch” where TLE co-repressors are displaced from TCFs by β-catenin, leading to activation of transcription. Recent reports challenge this view and suggest that additional processes, including exchange of specific TCF proteins and Wnt-dependent ubiquitination of TLEs, play important roles in the Wnt transcriptional switch.
Keywords LEF1  TCF  TLE  Wnt  Wnt signaling  beta‐catenin  groucho  transcriptional switch
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DOI 10.1002/bies.201700162
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