Reporter transgene, knockout, and misexpression studies support the notion that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling regulates aspects of branching morphogenesis, regional specialization of the epithelium and mesenchyme, and establishment of progenitor cell pools. As demonstrated for other foregut endoderm-derived organs, beta-catenin and the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway contribute to control of cellular proliferation, differentiation and migration. However, the contribution of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling to these processes is shaped by other signals impinging on target tissues. In this review, we will concentrate on roles for Wnt/beta-catenin in respiratory system development, including segregation of the conducting airway and alveolar compartments, specialization of the mesenchyme, and establishment of tracheal asymmetries and tracheal glands.
Keywords: airway; alveolar; endoderm; mesenchyme; morphogenesis; respiratory.