The canonical Wnt signaling pathway plays an important role in lymphopoiesis and hematopoiesis


  • Frank J. T. Staal Dr.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Immunology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Jyoti M. Sen Dr.

    1. Lymphocyte Development Unit, Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
    2. Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute on ageing, National Institute of Health, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA
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The evolutionarily conserved canonical Wnt-β-catenin-T cell factor (TCF)/lymphocyte enhancer binding factor (LEF) signaling pathway regulates key checkpoints in the development of various tissues. Therefore, it is not surprising that a large body of gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies implicate Wnt-β-catenin signaling in lymphopoiesis and hematopoiesis. In contrast, recent papers have reported that Mx-Cre-mediated conditional deletion of β-catenin and/or its homolog γ-catenin (plakoglobin) did not impair hematopoiesis or lymphopoiesis. However, these studies also report that TCF reporter activity remains active in β-catenin- and γ-catenin-deficient hematopoietic stem cells and all cells derived from these precursors, indicating that the canonical Wnt signaling pathway was not abrogated. Therefore, these studies in fact show that the canonical Wnt signaling pathway is important in hematopoiesis and lymphopoiesis, even though the molecular basis for the induction of the reporter activity is currently unknown. In this perspective, we provide a broad background to the field with a discussion of the available data and create a framework within which the available and future studies may be evaluated.