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EMBO J. 2005 Mar 23;24(6):1181-91. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Noncanonical Wnt-4 signaling and EAF2 are required for eye development in Xenopus laevis.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Wnt-4 is expressed in developing neural and renal tissue and is required for renal tubulogenesis in mouse and Xenopus. The function of Wnt-4 in neural differentiation is unknown so far. Here we demonstrate that Wnt-4 is required for eye development in Xenopus laevis. This effect of Wnt-4 depends on the activation of a beta-catenin-independent, noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway. Furthermore, we report the identification of EAF2, a component of the ELL-mediated RNA polymerase II elongation factor complex, as a target gene of Wnt-4 signaling. EAF2 is specifically expressed in the eye and EAF2 expression was dependent on Wnt-4 function. Loss of EAF2 function results in loss of eyes and loss of Wnt-4 function could be rescued by EAF2. In neuralized animal caps, EAF2 has properties characteristic for an RNA polymerase II elongation factor regulating the expression of the eye-specific transcription factor Rx. These data add a new layer of complexity to our understanding of eye development and give further evidence for the importance of noncanonical Wnt pathways in organ development.

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