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Development. 2008 Apr;135(7):1365-76. doi: 10.1242/dev.010504. Epub 2008 Feb 27.

Chick pulmonary Wnt5a directs airway and vascular tubulogenesis.

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  • 1Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Wnt5a is an important factor patterning many aspects of early development, including the lung. We find pulmonary non-canonical Wnt5a uses Ror2 to control patterning of both distal air and vascular tubulogenesis (alveolarization). Lungs with mis/overexpressed Wnt5a develop with severe pulmonary hypoplasia associated with altered expression patterns of Shh, L-CAM, fibronectin, VEGF and Flk1. This hypoplastic phenotype is rescued by either replacement of the Shh protein or inhibition of fibronectin function. We find that the effect of Wnt5a on vascular patterning is likely to be through fibronectin-mediated VEGF signaling. These results demonstrate the pivotal role of Wnt5a in directing the essential coordinated development of pulmonary airway and vasculature, by affecting fibronectin levels directly, and by affecting the fibronectin pattern of expression through its regulation of Shh. Data herein suggest that Wnt5a functions in mid-pulmonary patterning (during alveolarization), and is distinct from the Wnt canonical pathway which is more important in earlier lung development.

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