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Dev Biol. 2009 Jun 1;330(1):21-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.02.035. Epub 2009 Mar 6.

Interfering with Wnt signalling alters the periodicity of the segmentation clock.

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Division of Cell and Developmental Biology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee, Scotland, UK.


Somites are embryonic precursors of the ribs, vertebrae and certain dermis tissue. Somite formation is a periodic process regulated by a molecular clock which drives cyclic expression of a number of clock genes in the presomitic mesoderm. To date the mechanism regulating the period of clock gene oscillations is unknown. Here we show that chick homologues of the Wnt pathway genes that oscillate in mouse do not cycle across the chick presomitic mesoderm. Strikingly we find that modifying Wnt signalling changes the period of Notch driven oscillations in both mouse and chick but these oscillations continue. We propose that the Wnt pathway is a conserved mechanism that is involved in regulating the period of cyclic gene oscillations in the presomitic mesoderm.

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