Wnt signaling has been shown to be important in the patterning of the gastrulating mouse embryo, especially in axis formation. To this date, there is no clear indication that the Wnt receptors, Frizzleds (Fzds), are involved in such early specification. Moreover, at the gastrulation stage, the only Fzd with a known characterized expression pattern is Fzd8, which is expressed in the anterior visceral endoderm (aVE) (Lu et al.  Gene Expr Patterns 4:569-572). Following a real time RT-PCR study to evaluate Fzd expression in the gastrulating embryo, we used whole-mount in situ hybridization to reveal new expression domains for Fzd5, Fzd7, and Fzd10. Fzd5 is expressed in the aVE and Fzd7 expression is restricted to the epiblast of the gastrulating embryo. The expression pattern of Fzd10 in the primitive streak of the gastrula suggests it has a role in mesoderm induction. We also show that the purified, secreted forms of the extracellular cysteine-rich domains (CRDs) of FZD5, Fzd7, and Fzd8 can antagonize Wnt3a-induced beta-Catenin accumulation in L-cells, whereas in mouse embryonic stem cells, these CRDs can inhibit spontaneous mesoderm formation and promote neural differentiation. Our data demonstrate that Fzd5, Fzd7, and Fzd10 are expressed in distinct domains of the gastrulating embryo, and that the CRDs of FZD5, Fzd7, and Fzd8 can regulate Wnts, indicating that Fzds interpret Wnt signals during embryonic mesoderm and neural induction.
Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.