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Genes Dev. 2002 Mar 1;16(5):548-53.

Wnt signaling plays an essential role in neuronal specification of the dorsal spinal cord.

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  • 1Kondoh Differentiation Signaling Project, Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO), Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST), Kinki Invention Center, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8305, Japan.


In the developing spinal cord, signals from the roof plate are required for the development of three classes of dorsal interneuron: D1, D2, and D3, listed from dorsal to ventral. Here, we demonstrate that absence of Wnt1 and Wnt3a, normally expressed in the roof plate, leads to diminished development of D1 and D2 neurons and a compensatory increase in D3 neuron populations. This occurs without significantly altered expression of BMP and related genes in the roof plate. Moreover, Wnt3a protein induces expression of D1 and D2 markers in the isolated medial region of the chick neural plate, and Noggin does not interfere with this induction. Thus, Wnt signaling plays a critical role in the specification of cell types for dorsal interneurons.

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