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Dev Cell. 2008 Jul;15(1):23-36. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2008.05.007.

Cthrc1 selectively activates the planar cell polarity pathway of Wnt signaling by stabilizing the Wnt-receptor complex.

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Laboratory for Embryonic Induction, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, 2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0047, Japan.


Vertebrate Wnt proteins activate several distinct pathways. Intrinsic differences among Wnt ligands and Frizzled (Fzd) receptors, and the availability of pathway-specific coreceptors, LRP5/6, and Ror2, affect pathway selection. Here, we show that a secreted glycoprotein, Cthrc1, is involved in selective activation of the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway by Wnt proteins. Although Cthrc1 null mutant mice appeared normal, the introduction of a heterozygous mutation of a PCP gene, Vangl2, resulted in abnormalities characteristic of PCP mutants. In HEK293T cells, Cthrc1 activated the PCP pathway but suppressed the canonical pathway. Cell-surface-anchored Cthrc1 bound to Wnt proteins, Fzd proteins, and Ror2 and enhanced the interaction of Wnt proteins and Fzd/Ror2 by forming the Cthrc1-Wnt-Fzd/Ror2 complex. Consistent with this, Ror2 mutant mice also showed PCP-related abnormalities in the inner ear. These results suggest that Cthrc1 is a Wnt cofactor protein that selectively activates the Wnt/PCP pathway by stabilizing ligand-receptor interaction.

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