* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received February 20, 2014
The canonical Wnt signal pathway is a key regulator of self-renewal and cell fate determination in various types of stem cells. The total pool of β-catenin consists of two different forms: the signaling form of the protein transmits the Wnt signals from the cell membrane to the target genes, whereas the membrane β-catenin is involved in formation of cell-to-cell contact at cadherin junctions. Earlier we developed an in vitro model of epithelial differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) co-cultured with epithelial A-549 cells. The purpose of the present work was to study the role of Wnt2 secreted by the A-549 cells in paracrine induction of β-catenin in co-cultured MSCs. Using the somatic gene knockdown technique, we obtained A-549 cell cultures with down-regulated WNT2. The MSCs co-cultured with the control A-549 cells displayed an increase in the levels of total cellular and signaling β-catenin and transactivation of a reporter construction containing the Lef/Tcf protein family binding sites. In contrast, β-catenin was not induced in the MSCs co-cultured with the A-549 cells with down-regulated WNT2 expression, but the total protein level was increased. We suggest that Wnt2 secreted by A-549 cells induces in co-cultured MSCs the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, whereas the associated increase in total β-catenin level should be due to another mechanism.
KEY WORDS: mesenchymal stem cells, Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway