Background: Members of the Smad family of signal transduction molecules are components of a critical intracellular pathway that transmit TGF-β signals from the cell surface into the nucleus. Three distinct classes of Smads have been defined: the receptor-regulated Smads (R-Smads), which include Smad1, 2, 3, 5, and 8; the common-mediator Smad (co-Smad), Smad4; and the antagonistic or inhibitory Smads (I-Smads), Smad6 and 7 (1-5). Activated type I receptors associate with specific R-Smads and phosphorylate them on a conserved carboxy terminal SSXS motif. The phosphorylated R-Smad dissociates from the receptor and forms a heteromeric complex with the co-Smad (Smad4), allowing translocation of the complex to the nucleus. Once in the nucleus, Smads can target a variety of DNA binding proteins to regulate transcriptional responses (6-8).
Background: β-Catenin is a key downstream effector in the Wnt signaling pathway (1). It is implicated in two major biological processes in vertebrates: early embryonic development (2) and tumorigenesis (3). CK1 phosphorylates β-catenin at Ser45. This phosphorylation event primes β-catenin for subsequent phosphorylation by GSK-3β (4-6). GSK-3β destabilizes β-catenin by phosphorylating it at Ser33, Ser37, and Thr41 (7). Mutations at these sites result in the stabilization of β-catenin protein levels and have been found in many tumor cell lines (8).