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Development. 2009 Dec;136(24):4083-8. doi: 10.1242/dev.032524. Epub 2009 Nov 11.

Secreted Frizzled-related proteins enhance the diffusion of Wnt ligands and expand their signalling range.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Secreted Frizzled-related proteins (sFRPs) are thought to negatively modulate Wnt signalling. Although Wnt proteins are thought to diffuse extracellularly and act as morphogens, little is known about the diffusibility of either Wnts or sFRPs. Here we show that Frzb and Crescent (Cres), which are members of the sFRP family, have the ability to regulate the diffusibility and signalling areas of the Wnt ligands Wnt8 and Wnt11. We found, using the Xenopus embryo, that Wnts do not diffuse effectively, whereas Frzb and Cres spread very widely. Interestingly, Frzb and Cres substantially promoted the diffusion of Wnt8 and Wnt11 through extracellular interactions. Importantly, we show that Wnt8 conveyed by sFRPs can activate canonical Wnt signalling despite the function of sFRPs as Wnt inhibitors, suggesting a novel regulatory system for Wnts by sFRPs.

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