Wnt Regulation: Exploring Axin-Disheveled interactions and defining mechanisms by which the SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase is recruited to the destruction complex

Schaefer KN, Pronobis M, Williams CE, Zhang S, Bauer L, Goldfarb D, Yan F, Major MB, Peifer M.
Preprint from
20 November 2019
Wnt signaling plays key roles in embryonic development and adult stem cell homeostasis, and is altered in human cancer. Signaling is turned on and off by regulating stability of the effector β-catenin. The multiprotein destruction complex binds and phosphorylates β-catenin, and transfers it to the SCF-TrCP E3-ubiquitin ligase, for ubiquitination and destruction. Wnt signals act though Dishevelled to turn down the destruction complex, stabilizing β-catenin. Recent work clarified underlying mechanisms, but important questions remain. We explore β-catenin transfer from the destruction complex to the E3 ligase, and test models suggesting Dishevelled and APC2 compete for association with Axin. We find that Slimb/TrCP is a dynamic component of the destruction complex biomolecular condensate, while other E3 proteins are not. Recruitment requires Axin and not APC, and Axin’s RGS domain plays an important role. We find that elevating Dishevelled levels in Drosophila embryos has paradoxical effects, promoting the ability of limiting levels of Axin to turn off Wnt signaling. When we elevate Dishevelled levels, it forms its own cytoplasmic puncta, but these do not recruit Axin. SIM imaging in mammalian cells suggests that this may result by promoting Dishevelled: Dishevelled interactions at the expense of Dishevelled:Axin interactions when Dishevelled levels are high.