Wnt signals have been shown to be involved in multiple steps of vertebrate neural patterning, yet the relative contributions of individual Wnts to the process of brain regionalization is poorly understood. Wnt1 has been shown in the mouse to be required for the formation of the midbrain and the anterior hindbrain, but this function of wnt1 has not been explored in other model systems. Further, wnt1 is part of a Wnt cluster conserved in all vertebrates comprising wnt1 and wnt10b, yet the function of wnt10b during embryogenesis has not been explored. Here, we report that in zebrafish wnt10b is expressed in a pattern overlapping extensively with that of wnt1. We have generated a deficiency allele for these closely linked loci and performed morpholino antisense oligo knockdown to show that wnt1 and wnt10b provide partially redundant functions in the formation of the midbrain-hindbrain boundary (MHB). When both loci are deleted, the expression of pax2.1, en2, and her5 is lost in the ventral portion of the MHB beginning at the 8-somite stage. However, wnt1 and wnt10b are not required for the maintenance of fgf8, en3, wnt8b, or wnt3a expression. Embryos homozygous for the wnt1-wnt10b deficiency display a mild MHB phenotype, but are sensitized to reductions in either Pax2.1 or Fgf8; that is, in combination with mutant alleles of either of these loci, the morphological MHB is lost. Thus, wnt1 and wnt10b are required to maintain threshold levels of Pax2.1 and Fgf8 at the MHB.
Copyright 2003 Elsevier Science (USA)