Identification of Wnt Genes Expressed in Neural Progenitor Zones during Zebrafish Brain Development

PLoS One. 2015 Dec 29;10(12):e0145810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145810. eCollection 2015.


Wnt signaling regulates multiple aspects of vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) development, including neurogenesis. However, vertebrate genomes can contain up to 25 Wnt genes, the functions of which are poorly characterized partly due to redundancy in their expression. To identify candidate Wnt genes as candidate mediators of pathway activity in specific brain progenitor zones, we have performed a comprehensive expression analysis at three different stages during zebrafish development. Antisense RNA probes for 21 Wnt genes were generated from existing and newly synthesized cDNA clones and used for in situ hybridization on whole embryos and dissected brains. As in other species, we found that Wnt expression patterns in the embryonic zebrafish CNS are complex and often redundant. We observed that progenitor zones in the telencephalon, dorsal diencephalon, hypothalamus, midbrain, midbrain-hindbrain boundary, cerebellum and retina all express multiple Wnt genes. Our data identify 12 specific ligands that can now be tested using loss-of-function approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Fertilization
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / physiology
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics*


  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins