Selective activation mechanisms of Wnt signaling pathways

Trends Cell Biol. 2009 Mar;19(3):119-29. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Feb 7.


Wnts comprise a large family of secreted, hydrophobic glycoproteins that control a variety of developmental and adult processes in all metazoan organisms, including cellular proliferation, differentiation, migration and polarity. Wnts have many receptors that are present on a variety of cell types, partly specifying which Wnt pathways are activated. Recently, evidence has been accumulating that specificity of activation downstream of Wnt is also regulated by receptor-mediated endocytosis and the presence of cofactors such as heparan sulfate proteoglycans, in addition to the formation of specific ligand-receptor pairs. Here, we describe how the different endocytic routes of Wnt receptors through caveolin and clathrin determine specificity of Wnt signaling in vertebrates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology


  • Wnt Proteins