Secretion and extracellular space travel of Wnt proteins

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2013 Aug;23(4):385-90. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2013.02.017. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Wnt signaling pathways control many processes during development, stem cell maintenance and homeostasis, and their aberrant regulation has been linked to diseases in man including diabetes, neurodegeneration and cancer. Wnts are hydrophobic proteins, however, quite paradoxically, they can travel over distances to induce cell-type specific responses. While there has been an initial focus on elucidating the intracellular signaling cascade, discoveries in the past few years have shed light on a highly complex, and regulated secretory process that guides Wnt proteins through the exocytic pathway. Wnt proteins are at least in portion packaged onto extracellular carriers such as exosomes. Similar to dysregulation of components in the Wnt receiving cell, failure to regulate Wnt secretion has been linked to cancer. Here, we review recent discoveries on factors and processes implicated in Wnt secretion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • Exosomes / genetics
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics*


  • Wnt Proteins