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Wnt/β-catenin and its Diverse Physiological Cell Signaling Pathways in Neurodegenerative and Neuropsychiatric Disorders

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Wnt signaling is a fundamental pathway in embryogenesis which is evolutionary conserved from metazoans to humans. Much of our understanding of Wnt signaling events emerged from key developmental studies in drosophila, zebra fish, xenopus, and mice. Considerable data now exists on the role of Wnt signaling beyond these developmental processes and in particular its role in health and disease. The focus of this special issue is on Wnt/β-catenin and its diverse physiological cell signaling pathways in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. This special issue is composed of six reviews and two original articles selected to highlight recent advances in the role of Wnt signaling in CNS embryonic development, in adult brain function, in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, NeuroAIDS, and in gliomas. The finding that β-catenin can translocate to the nucleus where it binds to TCF/LEF transcription factors to regulate target gene expression was a seminal observation that linked β-catenin/LEF to T cell development and differentiation. We also provide a nostalgic look on recent advances in role of Wnts in T cell development and maturation. These reviews highlight the extensive body of work in these thematic areas as well as identify knowledge gaps, where appropriate. Understanding Wnt function under healthy and diseased conditions may provide a therapeutic resource, albeit it a challenging one, in diseases where dysfunctional and/or diminished Wnt signaling is a prominent player in the disease process.

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This special issue was the brain child of Dr. Howard Gendelman, Editor-in Chief of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. I thank him for entrusting me with this jewel and for his continued support throughout this process. I thank my colleagues who contributed to this special issue and provided outstanding reviews that will contribute to a scientific dialogue on the topics. I thank the reviewers who evaluated these articles for their invaluable comments and suggestions to improve the manuscripts. I thank Ms. Robin Taylor for her outstanding administrative assistance as the managing editor for the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology and Mr. Kevin Tomlinson, research administrative assistant, Dept. Immunology/Microbiology, Rush University Medical Center, for his outstanding assistance with graphics. Funding is provided by the National Institutes of Health R01 NS060632, R03 DA 026723, R01 DA 033966, and PO1A1082971.

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Correspondence to Lena Al-Harthi.

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Al-Harthi, L. Wnt/β-catenin and its Diverse Physiological Cell Signaling Pathways in Neurodegenerative and Neuropsychiatric Disorders. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 7, 725–730 (2012).

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