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Dev Biol. 2006 Oct 15;298(2):368-78. Epub 2006 Jun 30.

Wnt signaling in hydroid development: formation of the primary body axis in embryogenesis and its subsequent patterning.

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Institute of Zoology, University of Cologne, Germany.


We have studied the role the canonical Wnt pathway plays in hydroid pattern formation during embryonic development and metamorphosis. Transcripts of Wnt and Tcf were asymmetrically deposited in the oocyte and subsequent developmental stages, marking the sites of first cleavage, posterior larval pole and the upcoming head of the metamorphosed polyp. To address the function of these genes, we activated downstream events of the Wnt pathway by pharmacologically blocking GSK-3beta. These treatments rendered the polar expression of Tcf ubiquitous and induced development of ectopic axes that contained head structures. These results allow concluding that Wnt signaling controls axis formation and regional tissue fates along it, determining one single axis terminus from which later the mouth and hypostome develop. Our data also indicate Wnt functions in axis formation and axial patterning as in higher metazoans, and thus point to an ancestral role of Wnt signaling in these processes in animal evolution.

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