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EMBO Rep. 2008 Oct;9(10):977-82. doi: 10.1038/embor.2008.167. Epub 2008 Sep 12.

Regulation of Wnt protein secretion and its role in gradient formation.

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German Cancer Research Center, Division of Signalling and Functional Genomics, Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


In metazoans, many developmental and disease-related processes are mediated by Wnt proteins, which are secreted by specific cells to regulate cellular programmes in the surrounding tissue. Although the Wnt-induced signal-transduction cascades are well studied, little is known about how Wnts are secreted. The discovery of Porcupine, an endoplasmic-reticulum-resident acyltransferase, led to closer inspection of the secretory routes of Wnts, and the analysis of Wnt secretion has become an exciting new area of research. Wnt post-translational modifications, interaction partners and subcellular localizations now indicate that Wnt release is tightly regulated. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the field of Wnt secretion and discuss the possibility that separate pathways might regulate the release of lipid-linked morphogens for short-range and long-range signalling.

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