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Development. 1991 Apr;111(4):1045-55.

Xwnt-8, a Xenopus Wnt-1/int-1-related gene responsive to mesoderm-inducing growth factors, may play a role in ventral mesodermal patterning during embryogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195.


In amphibian embryos, formation of the basic body plan depends on positional differences in the mesoderm. Although peptide growth factors involved in mesoderm induction have tentatively been identified, additional signals are required to generate pattern in this tissue. We have isolated a Xenopus cDNA for a Wnt-1 related gene, designated Xwnt-8, which is activated in response to mesoderm-inducing growth factors. Xwnt-8 transcripts are transiently expressed, being most abundant during gastrulation at which time expression is confined primarily to ventral mesodermal cells. Embryos dorsoanteriorized by exposure to lithium exhibit greatly reduced levels of Xwnt-8 mRNA, supporting a correlation between Xwnt-8 expression and a ventral mesodermal cell fate. Surprisingly, ectopic expression of Xwnt-8 in embryos causes a dorsoanterior-enhanced phenotype. These findings suggest that Xwnt-8 may be a secondary signalling agent which is produced in response to mesoderm-inducing factors and is involved in the early steps of mesodermal patterning.

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