Dorsoventral patterning of somites into sclerotome and dermomyotome involves antagonistic actions of ventralizing and dorsalizing signals originating from tissues surrounding the somites. The notochord and the floor plate of the neural tube provide a ventralizing signal(s) directing sclerotome development, whereas the surface ectoderm and dorsal neural tube provide a dorsalizing signal(s) directing dermomyotome development. Evidence has been provided that Sonic Hedgehog mediates the ventralizing effects of notochord and floor plate, but the dorsalizing signal(s) that patterns the dermomyotome has not been identified. The documented expression of Wnt1 and Wnt3a in the dorsal neural tube and of Wnt4 and Wnt6 in the surface ectoderm at the time of dermomyotome specification prompted us to investigate the involvement of WNT proteins in patterning the dermomyotome. Here we show that tissue culture cells expressing these WNT family members can maintain and induce dermomyotome marker expression in presomitic mesoderm explants, supporting the hypothesis that WNT proteins mediate the dorsalizing effects of the surface ectoderm and dorsal neural tube on somites.
Copyright 1997 Academic Press.