Wnt signaling represents a highly versatile signaling system, which plays diverse and critical roles in various aspects of neural development. Sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia require Wnt signaling for initial cell-fate determination as well as patterning and synapse formation. Here we report that Wnt signaling pathways persist in adult sensory neurons and play a functional role in their sensitization in a pathophysiological context. We observed that Wnt3a recruits the Wnt-calcium signaling pathway and the Wnt planar cell polarity pathway in peripheral nerves to alter pain sensitivity in a modality-specific manner and we elucidated underlying mechanisms. In contrast, biochemical, pharmacological, and genetic studies revealed lack of functional relevance for the classical canonical ?-catenin pathway in peripheral sensory neurons in acute modulation of nociception. Finally, this study provides proof-of-concept for a translational potential for Wnt3a-Frizzled3 signaling in alleviating disease-related pain hypersensitivity in cancer-associated pain in vivo.
Canonical Wnt signaling is thought to regulate cell behavior mainly by inducing ?-catenin-dependent transcription of target genes. In proliferating cells Wnt signaling peaks in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, but the significance of this "mitotic Wnt signaling" is unclear. Here we introduce Wnt-dependent stabilization of proteins (Wnt/STOP), which is independent of ?-catenin and peaks during mitosis. We show that Wnt/STOP plays a critical role in protecting proteins, including c-MYC, from GSK3-dependent polyubiquitination and degradation. Wnt/STOP signaling increases cellular protein levels and cell size. Wnt/STOP, rather than ?-catenin signaling, is the dominant mode of Wnt signaling in several cancer cell lines, where it is required for cell growth. We propose that Wnt/STOP signaling slows down protein degradation as cells prepare to divide.
Active DNA demethylation regulates epigenetic gene activation in numerous processes, but how the target site specificity of DNA demethylation is determined and what factors are involved are still poorly understood. Here we show that the tumor suppressor inhibitor of growth protein 1 (Ing1) is required for targeting active DNA demethylation. Ing1 functions by recruiting the regulator of DNA demethylation growth arrest and DNA damage protein 45a (Gadd45a) to histone H3 trimethylated at Lys 4 (H3K4me3). We show that reduced H3K4 methylation impairs recruitment of Gadd45a/Ing1 and gene-specific DNA demethylation. Our results indicate that histone methylation directs DNA demethylation.
What makes embryogenesis a robust and canalized process is an important question in developmental biology. A bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) morphogen gradient plays a key role in embryonic development, and we are beginning to understand how the self-regulating properties of its signaling circuitry ensure robust embryonic patterning. An unexplored question is why the BMP signaling circuit is organized as a modular synexpression group, with a prevalence of feedback inhibitors. Here, we provide evidence from direct experimentation and mathematical modeling that the synexpressed feedback inhibitors BAMBI, SMAD6, and SMAD7 (i) expand the dynamic BMP signaling range essential for proper embryonic patterning and (ii) reduce interindividual phenotypic and molecular variability in Xenopus embryos. Thereby, negative feedback linearizes signaling responses and confers robust patterning, thus promoting canalized development. The presence of negative feedback inhibitors in other growth factor synexpression groups suggests that these properties may constitute a general principle.
Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is important in stem cell biology, embryonic development, and disease, including cancer. However, the mechanism of Wnt signal transmission, notably how the receptors are activated, remains incompletely understood. We found that the prorenin receptor (PRR) is a component of the Wnt receptor complex. PRR functions in a renin-independent manner as an adaptor between Wnt receptors and the vacuolar H+-adenosine triphosphatase (V-ATPase) complex. Moreover, PRR and V-ATPase were required to mediate Wnt signaling during antero-posterior patterning of Xenopus early central nervous system development. The results reveal an unsuspected role for the prorenin receptor, V-ATPase activity, and acidification during Wnt/beta-catenin signaling.
Low-density lipoprotein receptor related proteins 5 and 6 (LRP5/6) are transmembrane receptors that initiate Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. Phosphorylation of PPPSP motifs in the LRP6 cytoplasmic domain is crucial for signal transduction. Using a kinome-wide RNAi screen, we show that PPPSP phosphorylation requires the Drosophila Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) L63. L63 and its vertebrate homolog PFTK are regulated by the membrane tethered G2/M Cyclin, Cyclin Y, which mediates binding to and phosphorylation of LRP6. As a consequence, LRP6 phosphorylation and Wnt/beta-catenin signaling are under cell cycle control and peak at G2/M phase; knockdown of the mitotic regulator CDC25/string, which results in G2/M arrest, enhances Wnt signaling in a Cyclin Y-dependent manner. In Xenopus embryos, Cyclin Y is required in vivo for LRP6 phosphorylation, maternal Wnt signaling, and Wnt-dependent anteroposterior embryonic patterning. G2/M priming of LRP6 by a Cyclin/CDK complex introduces an unexpected new layer of regulation of Wnt signaling.
The FLRT family of transmembrane proteins has been implicated in the regulation of FGF signalling, neurite outgrowth, homotypic cell sorting and cadherin-mediated adhesion. In an expression screen we identified the Netrin receptors Unc5B and Unc5D as high-affinity FLRT3 interactors. Upon overexpression, Unc5B phenocopies FLRT3 and both proteins synergize in inducing cell deadhesion in Xenopus embryos. Morpholino knock-downs of Unc5B and FLRT3 synergistically affect Xenopus development and induce morphogenetic defects. The small GTPase Rnd1, which transmits FLRT3 deadhesion activity, physically and functionally interacts with Unc5B, and mediates its effect on cell adhesion. The results suggest that FLRT3, Unc5B and Rnd1 proteins interact to modulate cell adhesion in early Xenopus development.
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