Requirement for Wnt3 in vertebrate axis formation

Nat Genet. 1999 Aug;22(4):361-5. doi: 10.1038/11932.


Several studies have implicated Wnt signalling in primary axis formation during vertebrate embryogenesis, yet no Wnt protein has been shown to be essential for this process. In the mouse, primitive streak formation is the first overt morphological sign of the anterior-posterior axis. Here we show that Wnt3 is expressed before gastrulation in the proximal epiblast of the egg cylinder, then is restricted to the posterior proximal epiblast and its associated visceral endoderm and subsequently to the primitive streak and mesoderm. Wnt3-/- mice develop a normal egg cylinder but do not form a primitive streak, mesoderm or node. The epiblast continues to proliferate in an undifferentiated state that lacks anterior-posterior neural patterning, but anterior visceral endoderm markers are expressed and correctly positioned. Our results suggest that regional patterning of the visceral endoderm is independent of primitive streak formation, but the subsequent establishment of anterior-posterior neural pattern in the ectoderm is dependent on derivatives of the primitive streak. These studies provide genetic proof for the requirement of Wnt3 in primary axis formation in the mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt3 Protein


  • Proteins
  • WNT3 protein, human
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt3 Protein
  • Wnt3 protein, mouse