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Dev Biol. 2009 Apr 15;328(2):245-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.01.025. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

CWN-1 functions with DSH-2 to regulate C. elegans asymmetric neuroblast division in a beta-catenin independent Wnt pathway.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.


In Caenorhabditis elegans, Wnt signaling regulates many asymmetric cell divisions. During embryogenesis, the C. elegans Dishevelled (Dsh) homolog, DSH-2, regulates asymmetric neuroblast division of the ABpl/rpppa blast cell. Dsh is a key intracellular component of both beta-catenin dependent and beta-catenin independent Wnt pathways. In C. elegans, most of the well-characterized asymmetric cell divisions regulated by Wnts are dependent on beta-catenin. In the ABpl/rpppa neuroblast division, however, we determined that DSH-2 regulates cell polarity through a beta-catenin independent Wnt pathway. We also established that the C. elegans Wnt homolog, cwn-1, functions to regulate asymmetric division of the ABpl/rpppa blast cell. Our results indicated that cwn-1 does not act alone in this process, and it functions with another redundant ligand that appears not to be a Wnt. Finally, we show widespread requirements for DSH-2 during embryogenesis in the generation of many other neurons. In particular, DSH-2 function is necessary for the correct production of the embryonic ventral cord motor neurons. This study demonstrates a role for DSH-2 and Wnt signaling in neuronal specification during C. elegans embryogenesis.

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