In Wnt/β-catenin signaling, the β-catenin protein level is deliberately controlled by the assembly of the multiprotein β-catenin destruction complex composed of Axin, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β), casein kinase 1α (CK1α), and others. Here we provide compelling evidence that formation of the destruction complex is driven by protein liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) of Axin. An intrinsically disordered region in Axin plays an important role in driving its LLPS. Phase-separated Axin provides a scaffold for recruiting GSK3β, CK1α, and β-catenin. APC also undergoes LLPS in vitro and enhances the size and dynamics of Axin phase droplets. The LLPS-driven assembly of the destruction complex facilitates β-catenin phosphorylation by GSK3β and is critical for the regulation of β-catenin protein stability and thus Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Phase separation of Axin organizes the β-catenin destruction complex
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Junxiu Nong, Kexin Kang, Qiaoni Shi, Xuechen Zhu, Qinghua Tao, Ye-Guang Chen; Phase separation of Axin organizes the β-catenin destruction complex. J Cell Biol 5 April 2021; 220 (4): e202012112. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202012112
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