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Gene Expr Patterns. 2011 Mar-Apr;11(3-4):277-84. doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Feb 12.

All four zebrafish Wnt7 genes are expressed during early brain development.

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Heidelberg University, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Ludolf-Krehl-Strasse 13-17, D-68167 Mannheim, Germany.


Wnt-signalling is involved in a number of biological processes in the course of embryonic development, cell fate determination, proliferation, stem cell maintenance and oncogenesis. Wnt ligands are secreted glycoproteins and the number of Wnt isoforms varies between five in nematodes and 27 in fish. The highly conserved group of Wnt7 genes has been found to signal via at least three Wnt-signalling pathways dependent on the developmental context. These ligands have been identified as important regulators in a number of processes ranging from formation of bones, lungs, kidneys, reproductive organs and placenta to vasculogenesis and synaptogenesis in the brain. The importance of Wnt7 function is underscored by their implication in disease syndromes in man. Unlike the single Wnt7a and Wnt7b mammalian genes we find that the zebrafish genome contains two paralogues genes for each Wnt7 ligand. Here, we compare these four Wnt7 genes evolutionarily and analyse their expression during the first two days of embryonic development. We find Wnt7 genes mainly expressed in a number of CNS structures at developmental stages at which patterning and neural specification takes place. The timely and spatially overlapping as well as complementary gene expression suggests diverse as well as redundant involvements during brain development.

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