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Dev Biol. 1997 Mar 15;183(2):234-42.

Evidence that absence of Wnt-3a signaling promotes neuralization instead of paraxial mesoderm development in the mouse.

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Department of Dermatology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan.


Wnt-3a mutant embryos show defects caudal to the forelimb level; somites are absent, the notochord is disrupted, and the central nervous system has a pronounced dysmorphology. Previous studies revealed that the primary defects of the mutant embryos are likely to be in the process of paraxial mesoderm formation. In this study, we analyzed the phenotype of Wnt-3a mutant embryos at early somite stages (8.0 days post coitum), when somite formation is initiated. In Wnt-3a mutants, cells which have ingressed through the primitive streak do not migrate laterally but remain under the streak and form an ectopic tubular structure. Several neural-specific molecular markers, but no paraxial mesoderm markers, are expressed in this structure, suggesting that the ectopic tube is an additional neural tube. In normal embryos, Wnt-3a is expressed in the primitive ectoderm, including the cells which are fated to give rise to the paraxial mesoderm and neurectoderm, but expression is absent in migrating mesoderm cells. These results suggest that Wnt-3a signaling may play a role in regulating paraxial mesodermal fates, at the expense of neurectodermal fates, within the primitive ectoderm of the gastrulating mouse embryo.

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