Wnt signaling and the polarity of the primary body axis

Cell. 2009 Dec 11;139(6):1056-68. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.11.035.


How animals establish and pattern the primary body axis is one of the most fundamental problems in biology. Data from diverse deuterostomes (frog, fish, mouse, and amphioxus) and from planarians (protostomes) suggest that Wnt signaling through beta-catenin controls posterior identity during body plan formation in most bilaterally symmetric animals. Wnt signaling also influences primary axis polarity of pre-bilaterian animals, indicating that an axial patterning role for Wnt signaling predates the evolution of bilaterally symmetric animals. The use of posterior Wnt signaling and anterior Wnt inhibition might be a unifying principle of body plan development in most animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin