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Dev Growth Differ. 2000 Aug;42(4):347-57.

The maternal Xenopus beta-catenin signaling pathway, activated by frizzled homologs, induces goosecoid in a cell non-autonomous manner.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA.


In spite of abundant evidence that Wnts play essential roles in embryonic induction and patterning, little is known about the expression or activities of Wnt receptors during embryogenesis. The isolation and expression of two maternal Xenopus frizzled genes, Xfrizzled-1 and Xfrizzled-7, is described. It is also demonstrated that both can activate the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway as monitored by the induction of specific target genes. Activation of the beta-Catenin pathway has previously been shown to be necessary and sufficient for specifying the dorsal axis of Xenopus. beta-Catenin is thought to work through the cell-autonomous induction of the homeobox genes siamois and twin, that in turn bind to and activate the promoter of another homeobox gene, goosecoid. However, it was found that the beta-catenin pathway regulated the expression of both endogenous goosecoid, and a goosecoid promoter construct, in a cell non-autonomous manner. These data demonstrate that maternal Frizzleds can activate the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in Xenopus embryos, and that induction of a known downstream gene can occur in a cell non-autonomous manner.

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