Genetic alterations of WNT signaling molecules lead to carcinogenesis through activation of the beta-catenin-TCF signaling pathway. We have previously cloned and characterized WNT2B/WNT13 gene on human chromosome 1p13, which is homologous to proto-oncogene WNT2 on human chromosome 7q31. WNT2B1 and WNT2B2 mRNAs, generated from the WNT2B gene due to alternative splicing of the alternative promoter type, encode almost identical polypeptides with divergence in the N-terminal region. WNT2B2 mRNA rather than WNT2B1 mRNA is preferentially expressed in NT2 cells with the potential of neuronal differentiation. Here, we describe our investigations of expression of WNT2B mRNAs in various types of human primary cancer. Matched tumor/normal expression array analysis revealed that WNT2B mRNAs were significantly up-regulated in 2 of 8 cases of primary gastric cancer. WNT2B2 mRNA rather than WNT2B1 mRNA was found to be preferentially up-regulated in a case of primary gastric cancer (signet ring cell carcinoma). Function of WNT2B1 mRNA and that of WNT2B2 mRNA were investigated by using Xenopus axis duplication assay. Injection of synthetic WNT2B1 mRNA into the ventral marginal zone of fertilized Xenopus eggs at the 4-cell stage did not induce axis duplication. In contrast, ventral injection of synthetic WNT2B2 mRNA induced axis duplication in 90% of embryos (complete axis duplication, 24%). These results strongly suggest that WNT2B2 up-regulation in some cases of gastric cancer might lead to carcinogenesis through activation of the beta-catenin-TCF signaling pathway.