Wnt signalling required for expansion of neural crest and CNS progenitors

Nature. 1997 Oct 30;389(6654):966-70. doi: 10.1038/40146.


Interactions between cells help to elaborate pattern within the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS). The genes Wnt-1 and Wnt-3a, which encode members of the Wnt family of cysteine-rich secreted signals, are coexpressed at the dorsal midline of the developing neural tube, coincident with dorsal patterning. Each signal is essential for embryonic development, Wnt-1 for midbrain patterning, and Wnt-3a for formation of the paraxial mesoderm, but the absence of a dorsal neural-tube phenotype in each mutant suggests that Wnt signalling may be redundant. Here we demonstrate that in the absence of both Wnt- and Wnt-3a there is a marked deficiency in neural crest derivatives, which originate from the dorsal neural tube, and a pronounced reduction in dorsolateral neural precursors within the neural tube itself. These phenotypes do not seem to result from a disruption in the mechanisms responsible for establishing normal dorsoventral polarity. Rather, our results are consistent with a model in which local Wnt signalling regulates the expansion of dorsal neural precursors. Given the widespread expression of different Wnt genes in discrete areas of the mammalian neural tube, this may represent a general model for the action of Wnt signalling in the developing CNS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Cell Division
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Neural Crest / embryology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • Wnt3 Protein
  • Wnt3A Protein
  • Zebrafish Proteins*


  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • Wnt1 protein, mouse
  • Wnt3 Protein
  • Wnt3A Protein
  • Wnt3a protein, mouse
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases
  • dopachrome isomerase