Changes in WNT/β-catenin pathway during regulated growth in rat liver regeneration



The wnt/β-catenin pathway is important during embryogenesis and carcinogenesis. β-Catenin interaction with E-cadherin has been shown to be crucial in cell-cell adhesion. We report novel findings in the wnt pathway during rat liver regeneration after 70% partial hepatectomy using Western blot analyses, immunoprecipitation studies, and immunofluorescence. We found wnt-1 and β-catenin proteins to be predominantly localized in hepatocytes. Immediately following partial hepatectomy, we observed an initial increase in β-catenin protein during the first 5 minutes with its translocation to the nucleus. We show this increase to be the result of decreased degradation of β-catenin (decrease in serine phosphorylated β-catenin) as seen by immunoprecipitation studies. We observed activation of β-catenin degradation complex comprising of adenomatous polyposis coli gene product (APC) and serine-phosphorylated axin protein, beginning at 5 minutes after hepatectomy, leading to its decreased levels after this time. Quantitative changes observed in E-cadherin protein during liver regeneration are, in general, reverse to those seen in β-catenin. In addition, using immunoprecipitation, we observe elevated levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated β-catenin at 6 hours onward. Thus, changes in the wnt pathway during regulated growth seem to tightly regulate cytosolic β-catenin levels and may be contributing to induce cell proliferation and target gene expression. Furthermore, these changes might also be intended to negatively regulate cell-cell adhesion for structural reorganization during the process of liver regeneration.