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Dev Biol. 2009 Feb 15;326(2):285-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.11.020. Epub 2008 Dec 7.

Wnt5a is essential for intestinal elongation in mice.

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Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Morphogenesis of the mammalian small intestine entails extensive elongation and folding of the primitive gut into a tightly coiled digestive tube. Surprisingly, little is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate the morphological aspects of small intestine formation. Here, we demonstrate that Wnt5a, a member of the Wnt family of secreted proteins, is essential for the development and elongation of the small intestine from the midgut region. We found that the small intestine in mice lacking Wnt5a was dramatically shortened and duplicated, forming a bifurcated lumen instead of a single tube. In addition, cell proliferation was reduced and re-intercalation of post-mitotic cells into the elongating gut tube epithelium was disrupted. Thus, our study demonstrates that Wnt5a functions as a critical regulator of midgut formation and morphogenesis in mammals.

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