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Mech Dev. 2004 Feb;121(2):183-94.

WNT5A signaling affects pituitary gland shape.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School, 1500 W. Medical Center Drive, 4301 MSRB 3, Ann Arbor, MI 48019-0638, USA.


Wnt signaling is important in organogenesis, and aberrant signaling in mature cells is associated with tumorigenesis. Several members of the Wnt family of signaling molecules are expressed in the developing pituitary gland. Wnt5a is expressed in the neuroectoderm that induces pituitary gland development and has been proposed to influence pituitary cell specification. We discovered that mice deficient in Wnt5a display abnormal morphology in the dorsal part of the developing pituitary. The expression of downstream effectors of the canonical Wnt pathway is not altered, and expression of genes in other signaling pathways such as Shh, Fgf8, Fgf10 and Fgfr2b is intact. Prop1 and Hesx1 are also important for normal shape of the pituitary primordium, but their expression is unaltered in the Wnt5a mutants. Specification of the hormone-producing cell types of the mature anterior pituitary gland occurs appropriately. This study suggests that the primary role of Wnt5a in the developing pituitary gland is in establishment of the shape of the gland.

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