A molecular mechanism for Wnt ligand-specific signaling

Science. 2018 Aug 17;361(6403):eaat1178. doi: 10.1126/science.aat1178. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Wnt signaling is key to many developmental, physiological, and disease processes in which cells seem able to discriminate between multiple Wnt ligands. This selective Wnt recognition or "decoding" capacity has remained enigmatic because Wnt/Frizzled interactions are largely incompatible with monospecific recognition. Gpr124 and Reck enable brain endothelial cells to selectively respond to Wnt7. We show that Reck binds with low micromolar affinity to the intrinsically disordered linker region of Wnt7. Availability of Reck-bound Wnt7 for Frizzled signaling relies on the interaction between Gpr124 and Dishevelled. Through polymerization, Dishevelled recruits Gpr124 and the associated Reck-bound Wnt7 into dynamic Wnt/Frizzled/Lrp5/6 signalosomes, resulting in increased local concentrations of Wnt7 available for Frizzled signaling. This work provides mechanistic insights into the Wnt decoding capacities of vertebrate cells and unravels structural determinants of the functional diversification of Wnt family members.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / cytology
  • Dishevelled Proteins / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Frizzled Receptors / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway*
  • Zebrafish


  • Dishevelled Proteins
  • Frizzled Receptors
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Wnt Proteins