The canonical Wnt pathway in early mammalian embryogenesis and stem cell maintenance/differentiation

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2004 Oct;14(5):533-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2004.07.013.


The Wnt signaling pathway plays essential roles in embryogenesis of higher eukaryotes from diploblastic, radially symmetrical cnidarians to mice and humans. Whereas studies in model organisms such as Drosophila and Xenopus continue to elucidate how the Wnt pathway is regulated, studies of mouse mutants and cultured mammalian cells start to reveal how the Wnt pathway controls development and differentiation in mammals. Here we review some of the recent progresses in our understanding of the Wnt pathway. We focus on how this pathway, through regulating transcription of its downstream target genes, specifies pattern formation during mammalian embryogenesis and functions in the differentiation and maintenance of stem cells both in vivo and in vitro.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Wnt Proteins


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins