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Title: Mechanisms of molecular switching in the Wnt signal transduction pathway
Author: Flack, Joshua Edwin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 2796
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Wnt signalling is a critical cellular communication pathway controlling cell fate in all metazoan organisms. Timely activation of this pathway is crucial to coordinate development, control homeostasis of adult tissues, and to avoid cancer. Wnt signal transduction depends primarily on the activities of three multiprotein complexes; the 'degradasome', which targets the central effector β-catenin for degradation in the absence of Wnt; the 'signalosome', which is assembled by Dishevelled upon Wnt-receptor binding to inactivate the degradasome, thus allowing β-catenin to accumulate; and the 'enhanceosome', which captures β-catenin, granting it access to target genes and relieving their transcriptional repression by Gro/TLE. Many of the components of these complexes have now been identified, but details of their regulation, and in particular the mechanisms by which they are switched on and off, remain poorly understood. The majority of this thesis is concerned with the mechanism by which β-catenin relieves the transcriptional repression imposed upon Wnt target genes, and thereby activates the Wnt 'transcriptional switch'. In Chapter 2, I present data showing that apposition of Gro/TLE and UBR5, a HECT E3 ubiquitin ligase, by β-catenin promotes Gro/TLE ubiquitylation, earmarking it for extraction by the VCP/p97 ATPase and ultimately leading to inactivation of its repressive function. In Chapter 3, I present the results of a different, ongoing study to identify the mechanism by which a cytoplasmic negative regulator, Naked, acts to interfere with the function of Dishevelled, promoting the switching of signalosomes and the termination of canonical Wnt signalling. These findings advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which the Wnt signalling pathway is switched on and off, and suggest new targets for therapeutic intervention in Wnt- driven cancers.
Supervisor: Bienz, Mariann Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Wnt signalling ; cell signalling ; ubiquitin ligase ; ubr5 ; colorectal cancer ; Nkd1