- Wnt/beta-catenin signaling controls development of the blood–brain barrier (2008)
- The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is confined to the endothelium of brain capillaries and is indispensable for fluid homeostasis and neuronal function. In this study, we show that endothelial Wnt/beta-catenin (beta-cat) signaling regulates induction and maintenance of BBB characteristics during embryonic and postnatal development. Endothelial specific stabilization of beta-cat in vivo enhances barrier maturation, whereas inactivation of beta-cat causes significant down-regulation of claudin3 (Cldn3), up-regulation of plamalemma vesicle-associated protein, and BBB breakdown. Stabilization of beta-cat in primary brain endothelial cells (ECs) in vitro by N-terminal truncation or Wnt3a treatment increases Cldn3 expression, BBB-type tight junction formation, and a BBB characteristic gene signature. Loss of beta-cat or inhibition of its signaling abrogates this effect. Furthermore, stabilization of beta-cat also increased Cldn3 and barrier properties in nonbrain-derived ECs. These findings may open new therapeutic avenues to modulate endothelial barrier function and to limit the devastating effects of BBB breakdown.