Axin is a negative regulator of canonical Wnt signaling, which promotes the degradation of β-catenin, the major effector in this signaling cascade. While many protein-binding domains of Axin have been identified, their significance has not been evaluated in vivo. Here, we report the generation and analysis of mice carrying modified Axin alleles in which either the RGS domain or the six C-terminal amino acids (C6 motif) were deleted. The RGS domain is required for APC-binding, while the C6 motif has been implicated in the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase, but is not required for the effects of Axin on the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, in vitro. Both mutant Axin alleles caused recessive embryonic lethality at E9.5–E10.5, with defects indistinguishable from those caused by a null allele. As Axin-ΔRGS protein was produced at normal levels, its inability to support embryogenesis confirms the importance of interactions between Axin and APC. In contrast, Axin-ΔC6 protein was expressed at only 25–30% of the normal level, which may account for the recessive lethality of this allele. Furthermore, many AxinΔC6/ΔC6 embryos that were heterozygous for a β-catenin null mutation survived to term, demonstrating that early lethality was due to failure to negatively regulate β-catenin
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