Wnt Signaling and the Regulation of Stem Cell Function

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Dec;16(6):681-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2004.08.006.


Canonical Wnt signaling plays a crucial role in controlling cell expansion in many types of stem cells. Recent studies, however, demonstrated that Wnt is not only a general stem cell growth factor but can also influence cell lineage decisions in certain stem cell types by promoting specific fates at the expense of others. Thus, Wnt signaling elicits multiple functions in stem cells. Wnt activity appears to depend on cell-intrinsic properties that might change with time during development, thereby altering the cellular response to Wnt. Moreover, the spatial context of a stem cell also determines how the cell interprets Wnt signal activity, in that synergistic or antagonistic signaling pathways can modulate Wnt signaling. How a stem cell integrates Wnt and other signals and how such signaling networks regulate stem cell function on the molecular level remains to be elucidated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / pathology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Wnt Proteins


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins