Activation of Intracellular Calcium by Multiple Wnt Ligands and Translocation of β-Catenin into the Nucleus

  • Thrasivoulou C
  • Millar M
  • Ahmed A
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Ca(2+) and β-catenin, a 92-kDa negatively charged transcription factor, transduce Wnt signaling via the non-canonical, Wnt/Ca(2+) and canonical, Wnt/β-catenin pathways independently. The nuclear envelope is a barrier to large protein entry, and this process is regulated by intracellular calcium [Ca(2+)]i and trans-nuclear potential. How β-catenin traverses the nuclear envelope is not well known. We hypothesized that Wnt/Ca(2+) and Wnt/β-catenin pathways act in a coordinated manner and that [Ca(2+)]i release facilitates β-catenin entry into the nucleus in mammalian cells. In a live assay using calcium dyes in PC3 prostate cancer cells, six Wnt peptides (3A, 4, 5A, 7A, 9B, and 10B) mobilized [Ca(2+)]i but Wnt11 did not. Based upon dwell time (range = 15-30 s) of the calcium waveform, these Wnts could be classified into three classes: short, 3A and 5A; long, 7A and 10B; and very long, 4 and 9B. Wnt-activated [Ca(2+)]i release was followed by an increase in intranuclear calcium and the depolarization of both the cell and nuclear membranes, determined by using FM4-64. In cells treated with Wnts 5A, 9B, and 10B, paradigm substrates for each Wnt class, increased [Ca(2+)]i was followed by β-catenin translocation into the nucleus in PC3, MCF7, and 253J, prostate, breast, and bladder cancer cell lines; both the increase in Wnt 5A, 9B, and 10B induced [Ca(2+)]i release and β-catenin translocation are suppressed by thapsigargin in PC3 cell line. We propose a convergent model of Wnt signaling network where Ca(2+) and β-catenin pathways may act in a coordinated, interdependent, rather than independent, manner.




Thrasivoulou, C., Millar, M., & Ahmed, A. (2013). Activation of Intracellular Calcium by Multiple Wnt Ligands and Translocation of β-Catenin into the Nucleus. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288(50), 35651–35659.

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