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Cell. 2004 Sep 17;118(6):795-806.

C. elegans LIN-18 is a Ryk ortholog and functions in parallel to LIN-17/Frizzled in Wnt signaling.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125, USA.


Wnt proteins are intercellular signals that regulate various aspects of animal development. In Caenorhabditis elegans, mutations in lin-17, a Frizzled-class Wnt receptor, and in lin-18 affect cell fate patterning in the P7.p vulval lineage. We found that lin-18 encodes a member of the Ryk/Derailed family of tyrosine kinase-related receptors, recently found to function as Wnt receptors. Members of this family have nonactive kinase domains. The LIN-18 kinase domain is dispensable for LIN-18 function, while the Wnt binding WIF domain is required. We also found that Wnt proteins LIN-44, MOM-2, and CWN-2 redundantly regulate P7.p patterning. Genetic interactions indicate that LIN-17 and LIN-18 function independently of each other in parallel pathways, and different ligands display different receptor specificities. Thus, two independent Wnt signaling pathways, one employing a Ryk receptor and the other a Frizzled receptor, function in parallel to regulate cell fate patterning in the C. elegans vulva.

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