A novel functional screen in human cells identifies MOCA as a negative regulator of Wnt signaling

Elanite Caspi, Rina Rosin-Arbesfeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aberrant Wnt signal transduction is involved in many human diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. The key effector protein of the canonical Wnt pathway is ß-catenin, which functions with T-cell factor/lymphoid enhancer factor (TCF/LEF) to activate gene transcription that leads to expression of Wnt target genes. In this study we provide results obtained from a novel functional screen of a human brain cDNA library used to identify 63 genes that are putative negative Wnt regulators. These genes were divided into eight functional groups that include known canonical and noncanonical Wnt pathway components and genes that had not yet been assigned to the Wnt pathway. One of the groups, the presenilin-binding proteins, contains the modifier of cell adhesion (MOCA) gene. We show that MOCA is a novel inhibitor of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling. MOCA forms a complex with /ß-catenin and inhibits transcription of known Wnt target genes. Epistasis experiments indicate that MOCA acts to reduce the levels of nuclear ß-catenin, increase the levels of membrane-bound ß-catenin, and enhances cell-cell adhesion. Therefore, our data indicate that MOCA is a novel Wnt negative regulator and demonstrate that this screening approach can be a rapid means for isolation of new Wnt regulators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4660-4674
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008


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