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Oncogene. 2006 Dec 4;25(57):7461-8.

Wnts as ligands: processing, secretion and reception.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.


Cell to cell communication is vital throughout the development of multicellular organisms and during adult homeostasis. One way in which communication is achieved is through the secretion of signaling molecules that are received by neighboring responding cells. Wnt ligands comprise a large family of secreted, hydrophobic, glycoproteins that control a variety of developmental and adult processes in all metazoan organisms. By binding to various receptors present on receiving cells, Wnts initiate intracellular signaling cascades resulting in changes in gene transcription. Misregulation of Wnt signaling contributes to cancer and other degenerative disorders; thus, much effort has been made to understand the ways in which the pathway is controlled. Although ample research into the regulatory mechanisms that influence intracellular signaling events has proved fruitful, a great deal still remains to be elucidated regarding the mechanisms that control Wnt protein processing and secretion from cells, transport through the extracellular space, and protein reception on neighboring cells. This review attempts to consolidate the current data regarding these essential processes.

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