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Ciba Found Symp. 1992;165:199-212; discussion 212-8.

The Wnt family of cell signalling molecules in postimplantation development of the mouse.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Roche Research Center, Nutley, NJ 07110.


The mammalian Wnt gene family consists of at least ten members, all of which share a common structure. The N-terminus encodes a putative signal peptide sequence, suggesting that Wnt proteins are secreted. A number of absolutely conserved cysteine residues imply that inter- or intramolecular disulphide bonding is important to Wnt protein function. Wnt RNAs are localized to discrete regions of the postimplantation embryo and fetus, particularly within the developing central nervous system. Studies on Wnt gene expression strongly suggest that Wnt-mediated signalling is likely to be an important aspect of mouse development. One member of the family, Wnt-1, has been studied in some detail. By generating mutant alleles, we have demonstrated that Wnt-1 regulates regional development of the central nervous system at early somite stages. There is circumstantial evidence that some aspects of the pathway through which Wnt-1 action is mediated may be evolutionarily conserved. We propose that the Wnt family plays a major role in cell-cell interactions in the mouse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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