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Front Cell Dev Biol. 2018 Dec 6;6:167. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2018.00167. eCollection 2018.

An Eye on the Wnt Inhibitory Factor Wif1.

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Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Ophthalmology, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Trento, Italy.
Laboratory of Neural Development and Regeneration, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Trento, Italy.
Laboratory of Translational Neurogenetics, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Trento, Italy.


The coordinated interplay between extrinsic activating and repressing cell signaling molecules is pivotal for embryonic development and subsequent tissue homeostasis. This is well exemplified by studies on the evolutionarily conserved Wnt signaling pathways. Tight temporal and spatial regulation of Wnt signaling activity is required throughout lifetime, from maternal stages before gastrulation until and throughout adulthood. Outside cells, the action of numerous Wnt ligands is counteracted and fine-tuned by only a handful of well characterized secreted inhibitors, such as for instance Dickkopf, secreted Frizzled Related Proteins and Cerberus. Here, we give an overview of our current understanding of another secreted Wnt signaling antagonist, the Wnt inhibitory factor Wif1. Wif1 can directly interact with various Wnt ligands and inhibits their binding to membrane bound receptors. Epigenetic promoter methylation of Wif1, leading to silencing of its transcription and concomitant up-regulation of Wnt signaling, is a common feature during cancer progression. Furthermore, an increasing number of reports describe Wif1 involvement in regulating processes during embryonic development, which so far has not received as much attention. We will summarize our knowledge on Wif1 function and its mode of action with a particular focus on the zebrafish (Danio rerio). In addition, we highlight the potential of Wif1 research to understand and possibly influence mechanisms underlying eye diseases and regeneration.


Wif1; Wnt signaling; cancer; eye; retina; zebrafish

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