Non-canonical Wnt signals are modulated by the Kaiso transcriptional repressor and p120-catenin
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Gastrulation movements are critical for establishing the three principal germ layers and the basic architecture of vertebrate embryos. Although the individual molecules and pathways involved are not clearly understood, non-canonical Wnt signals are known to participate in developmental processes, including planar cell polarity and directed cell rearrangements. Here we demonstrate that the dual-specificity transcriptional repressor Kaiso, first identified in association with p120-catenin, is required for Xenopus gastrulation movements. In addition, depletion of xKaiso results in increased expression of the non-canonical xWnt11, which contributes to the xKaiso knockdown phenotype as it is significantly rescued by dominant-negative Wnt11. We further demonstrate that xWnt11 is a direct gene target of xKaiso and that p120-catenin association relieves xKaiso repression in vivo. Our results indicate that p120-catenin and Kaiso are essential components of a new developmental gene regulatory pathway that controls vertebrate morphogenesis.