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Organogenesis. 2008 Apr;4(2):76-80.

Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in cerebral cortical development.

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  • Department of Pathology; Northwestern University; Feinberg School of Medicine; Chicago, Illinois USA.


The cerebral cortex is the multilayered sheet of neurons that underlies our highest cognitive abilities. Canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling has well-known activities in tissue patterning in regulating rostral-caudal and medial-lateral patterning in the developing cortex. In addition, recent studies suggest that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling also plays important roles in establishing the radial inside to outside organization of the cerebral cortex. Different Wnts, Wnt receptors and inhibitors are expressed in overlapping radial compartments of the cerebral cortex, and in vivo functional studies have provided evidence for Wnt/beta-catenin regulation of neural precursor self-renewal, laminar fate determination and establishing or stabilizing the patterns of neuronal communication of cortical neurons. Wnt/beta-catenin alterations have been observed in human brain tumors, and understanding its many diverse functions during normal neural development may provide greater insight into the mechanisms underlying the development and progression of neural tumors.


cerebral cortex; laminar fate; neural precursor; neural stem cell; radial patterning; regional specification; ventricular zone

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