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Cell. 1997 Aug 22;90(4):707-16.

Wnt signaling and an APC-related gene specify endoderm in early C. elegans embryos.

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Department of Cell Biology, Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Cancer Center, Worcester 01605, USA.


In a 4-cell stage C. elegans embryo, signaling by the P2 blastomere induces anterior-posterior polarity in the adjacent EMS blastomere, leading to endoderm formation. We have taken genetic and reverse genetic approaches toward understanding the molecular basis for this induction. These studies have identified a set of genes with sequence similarity to genes that have been shown to be, or are implicated in, Wnt/Wingless signaling pathways in other systems. The C. elegans genes described here are related to wnt/wingless, porcupine, frizzled, beta-catenin/armadillo, and the human adenomatous polyposis coli gene, APC. We present evidence that there may be partially redundant inputs into endoderm specification and that a subset of these genes appear also to function in determining cytoskeletal polarity in certain early blastomeres.

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