beta-catenin signals regulate cell growth and the balance between progenitor cell expansion and differentiation in the nervous system


  • D. Zechner
  • Y. Fujita
  • J. Huelsken
  • T. Mueller
  • I. Walther
  • M.M. Taketo
  • E.B. Crenshaw
  • W. Birchmeier
  • C. Birchmeier


  • Developmental Biology


  • Dev Biol 258 (2): 406-418


  • {Beta}-Catenin is an essential component of the canonical Wnt signaling system that controls decisive steps in development. We employed here two conditional β-catenin mutant alleles to alter {beta}-catenin signaling in the central nervous system of mice: one allele to ablate β-catenin and the second allele to express a constitutively active {beta}-catenin. The tissue mass of the spinal cord and brain is reduced after ablation of {beta}-catenin, and the neuronal precursor population is not maintained. In contrast, the spinal cord and brain of mice that express activated {beta}-catenin is much enlarged in mass, and the neuronal precursor population is increased in size. {beta}-Catenin signals are thus essential for the maintenance of proliferation of neuronal progenitors, controlling the size of the progenitor pool, and impinging on the decision of neuronal progenitors to proliferate or to differentiate.