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  1. eLife assessment

    Using a heterologous model system of budding yeast, authors find that nuclear translocation of beta-catenin is mediated by Kap104, the ortholog of Transportin (TNPO)1/2. A TNPO1 binding motif was identified in the C-terminal region of beta-catenin, which serves as a nuclear localization signal, and mutation of the motif inhibits beta-catenin mediated transcription. The manuscript serves as a staring point to study how much this motif contributes to nuclear localization of full-length beta-catenin in mammalian cells and to assess whether inhibiting TNPO1 interaction can reduce hyperactivation of beta-catenin signaling.

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  2. Reviewer #1 (Public Review):

    Hyperactivation of WNT/b-catenin signaling has been implicated in cancer. How b-catenin enters the nucleus is not completely understood. Using a heterologous model system of budding yeast, authors find that nuclear translocation of b-catenin is mediated by Kap104, the orthologue of TPO1/2. Authors further showed that a PY like motif in the C-terminus of b-catenin binds TPO1 and serves as a nuclear localization signal (NLS). Mutation of the PY like motif or inhibition of TPO1/2 inhibits b-catenin mediated transcription. Overall, this is an interesting study. The evidence that the PY like motif can serve as a NLS in yeast is convincing. However, how much this motif contributes to nuclear localization of full-length b-catenin in mammalian cells is not clear. Authors have relied on transcription readout of b-catenin, which has many caveats. Direct measurement of the level of b-catenin in the nucleus is important.

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  3. Reviewer #2 (Public Review):

    Hwang et al take an unconventional approach to address a longstanding problem in the field of Wnt signaling and cancer: the mechanism of beta-catenin nuclear import. The authors introduce expression of Xenopus beta-catenin in budding yeast, a heterologous model system that does not harbor any known Wnt signaling components but carries highly conserved nuclear transport machinery. They find that GFP-tagged beta-catenin is actively transported to the yeast nucleus in a Ran-GEF-dependent process, indicating NTR-dependent transport. An elegant rapamycin treatment-dependent Anchor-Away method is applied to systematically inhibit 10 budding yeast NTRs, for which orthologues exist in human cells. Significant and specific inhibition of beta-catenin nuclear import is identified when Kap104 (orthologue of Kapbeta2/Transportin-1 (TNPO1) was anchored to the plasma membrane. Furthermore, nuclear import depends on a PY-like NLS sequence in the beta-catenin C-terminus, which was shown to mediate a direct interaction with TNPO1. A role of the vertebrate paralogs tnpo1/2 and the PY-like NLS was confirmed in Xenopus, using double axis formation assays, and in mouse and human cell lines, combining tnpo1/2 depletion with nuclear localization and reporters for beta-catenin dependent transcription. Finally, the authors provide proof that responses of MEF cells to Wnt3a or human beta-catenin overexpression can be inhibited by treatment with a TNPO1/2 blocking peptide (M9M).

    Overall, the results of this study provide a valuable addition to the longstanding and ongoing discussions on the mechanisms of beta-catenin nuclear import. The conclusions are based on a well-focused and solid set of experiments and are confirmed across species in a diverse set of model systems, and findings are discussed against the state of the field. Although the identified TNPO1/2-dependent beta-catenin nuclear import pathway was shown to be a target for peptide-based inhibitory strategies, these findings remain to be confirmed in relevant (colorectal) cancer model systems in which levels of beta-catenin are inappropriately enhanced and inhibition of its nuclear entry is most warranted.

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