Author: Nat Pernick, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 30 October 2015, last major update August 2015

Copyright: (c) 2003-2015,, Inc.

PubMed Search: beta catenin[title]
  • Protein encoded by CTNNB1 gene, coordinates cell–cell adhesion and gene transcription (Wikipedia)
  • Part of Wnt signalling pathway, highly conserved pathway with critical role in embryologic development (Dev Cell 2009;17:9), carcinogenesis and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
  • Upon Wnt activation, β-catenin is translocated from membrane (where it interacts with E-cadherin) to cytoplasm and nucleus, where it interacts with transcriptional activators
Clinical Features
  • Mutations and overexpression of β-catenin are associated with various carcinomas
  • Colon: plays a critical role in tumorigenesis (mutations in APC or β-catenin present in 90% of colon cancers)
  • Thyroid: pathway important for anaplastic and possibly papillary thyroid carciomas (Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 2012;3:31)
  • Uterus: endometrioid endometrial carcinoma is associated with β-catenin mutations

Cadherins and catenins in signal transduction

Role of β-catenin in cell

Uses by Pathologists
Micro Images

Images hosted on other servers:

Bladder: urothelial carcinoma and adenocarcinoma

Colon: serrated adenoma

Colon: normal and carcinoma

Liver: hepatoblastoma

Liver: metastatic colorectal carcinoma in sentinel lymph node and liver

Lung: lymphangio-leiomyomatosis

Neuroblastoma has strong cytoplasmic and membranous staining but no nuclear staining

PNET, rhabdomyosarcoma, nephroblastoma are β-catenin+

Soft tissue: liposarcoma

Soft tissue: solitary fibrous tumor

Synovial sarcoma

Images hosted on

Breast: metaplastic carcinoma

Colon: normal and carcinoma

Liver: hepatoblastoma

Ovary: endometrioid carcinoma

Positive Staining - Normal
  • Fibroblasts and endothelial cells (cytoplasmic-membranous staining)
Positive Staining - Disease
Negative Staining
  • GIST, sclerosing mesenteritis, low grade fibromyxoid sarcoma, myofibroblastic or fibroblastic tumors