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Dev Growth Differ. 2008 May;50(4):229-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2008.01016.x.

Non-conventional Frizzled ligands and Wnt receptors.

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  • 1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Lab for Cell Genetics, 2 Pleinlaan, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.


The Wnt family of secreted signaling factors plays numerous roles in embryonic development and in stem cell biology. In the adult, Wnt signaling is involved in tissue homeostasis and mutations that lead to the overexpression of Wnt can be linked to cancer. Wnt signaling is transduced intracellularly by the Frizzled (Fzd) family of receptors. In the canonical pathway, accumulation of beta-catenin and the subsequent formation of a complex with T cell factors (TCF) or lymphoid enhancing factors (Lef) lead to target gene activation. The identification of Ryk as an alternative Wnt receptor and the discovery of the novel Fzd ligands Norrie disease protein (NDP) and R-Spondin, changed the traditional view of Wnts binding to Fzd receptors. Mouse R-Spondin cooperates with Wnt signaling and Low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor related protein (LRP) to activate beta-catenin dependent gene expression and is involved in processes such as limb and placental development in the mouse. NDP is the product of the Norrie disease gene and controls vascular development in the retina, inner ear and in the female reproductive system during pregnancy. In this review a functional overview of the interactions of the different Wnt and non-Wnt ligands with the Fzd receptors is given as well as a survey of Wnts binding to Ryk and we discuss the biological significance of these interactions.

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