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1.  Nuclear β-Catenin Is Increased in Systemic Sclerosis Pulmonary Fibrosis and Promotes Lung Fibroblast Migration and Proliferation 
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that results in loss of normal lung architecture, but the signaling events that drive tissue destruction are incompletely understood. Wnt/β-catenin signaling is important in normal lung development, but whether abnormal signaling occurs in lung fibrosis due to systemic sclerosis and the consequences of β-catenin signaling toward the fibrogenic phenotype remain poorly defined. In this study, we show nuclear β-catenin accumulation in fibroblastic foci from lungs of patients with systemic sclerosis–associated advanced pulmonary fibrosis. Forced activation of β-catenin signaling in three independently derived sources of normal human lung fibroblasts promotes proliferation and migratory activities but is not sufficient to activate classic markers of fibroblast activation, such as TGF-β, type 1 collagen, α-smooth muscle actin, and connective tissue growth factor. These findings indicate that activation of β-catenin signaling in pulmonary fibroblasts may be a common feature of lung fibrosis, contributing to fibroproliferative and migratory activities associated with the disease.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2010-0113OC
PMCID: PMC3262680  PMID: 21454805
Wnt/β-catenin signaling; scleroderma; fibrosis
2.  β-Catenin Phosphorylated at Serine 45 Is Spatially Uncoupled from β-Catenin Phosphorylated in the GSK3 Domain: Implications for Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10184.
C. elegans and Drosophila generate distinct signaling and adhesive forms of β-catenin at the level of gene expression. Whether vertebrates, which rely on a single β-catenin gene, generate unique adhesive and signaling forms at the level of protein modification remains unresolved. We show that β-catenin unphosphorylated at serine 37 (S37) and threonine 41 (T41), commonly referred to as transcriptionally Active β-Catenin (ABC), is a minor nuclear-enriched monomeric form of β-catenin in SW480 cells, which express low levels of E-cadherin. Despite earlier indications, the superior signaling activity of ABC is not due to reduced cadherin binding, as ABC is readily incorporated into cadherin contacts in E-cadherin-restored cells. β-catenin phosphorylated at serine 45 (S45) or threonine 41 (T41) (T41/S45) or along the GSK3 regulatory cassette S33, S37 or T41 (S33/37/T41), however, is largely unable to associate with cadherins. β-catenin phosphorylated at T41/S45 and unphosphorylated at S37 and T41 is predominantly nuclear, while β-catenin phosphorylated at S33/37/T41 is mostly cytoplasmic, suggesting that β-catenin hypophosphorylated at S37 and T41 may be more active in transcription due to its enhanced nuclear accumulation. Evidence that phosphorylation at T41/S45 can be spatially separated from phosphorylations at S33/37/T41 suggests that these phosphorylations may not always be coupled, raising the possibility that phosphorylation at S45 serves a distinct nuclear function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010184
PMCID: PMC2855705  PMID: 20419129
3.  Activity of the β-catenin phosphodestruction complex at cell–cell contacts is enhanced by cadherin-based adhesion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;186(2):219-228.
It is well established that cadherin protein levels impact canonical Wnt signaling through binding and sequestering β-catenin (β-cat) from T-cell factor family transcription factors. Whether changes in intercellular adhesion can affect β-cat signaling and the mechanism through which this occurs has remained unresolved. We show that axin, APC2, GSK-3β and N-terminally phosphorylated forms of β-cat can localize to cell–cell contacts in a complex that is molecularly distinct from the cadherin–catenin adhesive complex. Nonetheless, cadherins can promote the N-terminal phosphorylation of β-cat, and cell–cell adhesion increases the turnover of cytosolic β-cat. Together, these data suggest that cadherin-based cell–cell adhesion limits Wnt signals by promoting the activity of a junction-localized β-cat phosphodestruction complex, which may be relevant to tissue morphogenesis and cell fate decisions during development.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200811108
PMCID: PMC2717642  PMID: 19620634
4.  Issues associated with assessing nuclear localization of N-terminally unphosphorylated β-catenin with monoclonal antibody 8E7 
Biology Direct  2009;4:5.
Background
β-catenin is a dual function adhesion/transcriptional co-activator protein, and both functions are critical for normal tissue homeostasis. Since the transcriptional functions of β-catenin are more often implicated in various disease processes, there is much interest in the development and use of reagents to interrogate spatial and temporal evidence of β-catenin nuclear signaling in cells and tissues. An important study demonstrated that the signaling form of β-catenin is specifically unphosphorylated at residues S37 and T41, and suggested that this form exhibits a propensity for cytosolic/nuclear accumulation relative to the total pool of β-catenin.
Results
We show that monoclonal antibody, 8E7, which recognizes the signaling form of β-catenin specifically unphosphorylated at S37 and T41 (Active B-Catenin, ABC), also cross-reacts with a widely expressed, variably accessible nuclear antigen that is not β-catenin. In cell types commonly used to study Wnt activation, this non-specific nuclear staining can be robust, obscuring the ABC signal. Definitive detection of nuclear localized ABC can be confirmed through an ability of classical cadherins to sequester ABC to cell junctions. In tissues, milder antigen retrieval methods can reduce the accessibility of mAb 8E7 to this cross-reacting nuclear antigen.
Conclusion
These findings reveal that interpretation of nuclear, signaling active β-catenin using monoclonal antibody 8E7 should be considered judiciously, and in conjunction with independent methods.
Reviewers
This article was reviewed by Frank J. T. Staal (nominated by Rachel Gerstein), Jyoti M. Sen (nominated by Avinash Bhandoola) and Manabu Sugai.
doi:10.1186/1745-6150-4-5
PMCID: PMC2642777  PMID: 19187541

Results 1-4 (4)