Regulation of convergence and extension movements during vertebrate gastrulation by the Wnt/PCP pathway

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Oct;20(8):986-97. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2009.09.004. Epub 2009 Sep 15.


Vertebrate gastrulation entails massive cell movements that establish and shape the germ layers. During gastrulation, the individual cell behaviors are strictly coordinated in time and space by various signaling pathways. These pathways instruct the cells about proliferation, shape, fate and migration into proper location. Convergence and extension (C&E) movements during vertebrate gastrulation play a major role in the shaping of the embryonic body. In vertebrates, the Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity (Wnt/PCP) pathway is a key regulator of C&E movements, essential for several polarized cell behaviors, including directed cell migration, and mediolateral and radial cell intercalation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the acquisition of Planar Cell Polarity by highly dynamic mesenchymal cells engaged in C&E are still not well understood. Here we review new evidence implicating the Wnt/PCP pathway in specific cell behaviors required for C&E during zebrafish gastrulation, in comparison to other vertebrates. We also discuss findings on the molecular regulation and the interaction of the Wnt/PCP pathway with other signaling pathways during gastrulation movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Gastrulation*
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vertebrates / embryology*
  • Vertebrates / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*


  • Wnt Proteins