Activation of the Wnt–β-catenin signaling pathway by CHIR99021, a specific inhibitor of GSK3β, induces Tcf7l1 protein degradation, which facilitates the maintenance of an undifferentiated state in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs); however, the precise mechanism is still unclear. Here, we showed that the overexpression of transducin-β-like protein 1 (Tbl1, also known as Tbl1x) or its family member Tblr1 (also known as Tbl1xr1) can decrease Tcf7l1 protein levels, whereas knockdown of each gene increases Tcf7l1 levels without affecting Tcf7l1 transcription. Interestingly, only Tbl1, and not Tblr1, interacts with Tcf7l1. Mechanistically, Tbl1 translocates from the cytoplasm into the nucleus in association with β-catenin (CTNNB1) after the addition of CHIR99021 and functions as an adaptor to promote ubiquitylation of the Tcf7l1 protein. Functional assays further revealed that enforced expression of Tbl1 is capable of delaying mESC differentiation. In contrast, knockdown of Tbl1 attenuates the effect of CHIR99021 on Tcf7l1 protein stability and mESC self-renewal. Our results provide insight into the regulatory network of the Wnt–β-catenin signaling pathway involved in promoting the maintenance of naïve pluripotency.

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