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Dev Biol. 2001 Apr 15;232(2):339-50.

DWnt4 and wingless elicit similar cellular responses during imaginal development.

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Laboratoire de Génétique et Physiologie du Développement, Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille, CNRS/INSERM/Université de la Méditerranée, Parc Scientifique de Luminy, Case 907, Marseille Cedex 9, 13288, France.


Wnt genes encode evolutionarily conserved secreted proteins that provide critical functions during development. Although Wnt proteins share highly conserved features, they also show sequence divergence, which almost certainly contributes to the variety of their signaling activities. We previously reported that DWnt4 and wingless (wg), two divergent clustered Wnt genes, can have either antagonist or distinct functions during Drosophila embryogenesis. Here we provide evidence that both genes can elicit similar cellular responses during imaginal development. Ectopic expression of DWnt4 along the anterior/posterior (A/P) boundary of imaginal discs alters morphogenesis of adult appendages. In the wing disc, DWnt4 phenocopies ectopic Wg activity by inducing notum to wing transformation, suggesting similar signaling capabilities of both molecules. In support of this, we demonstrate that DWnt4 can rescue wg loss-of-function phenotypes in the antenna and haltere and is able to substitute for Wg in wing field specification. We also show that both genes are transcribed in overlapping domains in imaginal discs, suggesting that DWnt4 may cooperate with wg during limb patterning.

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