Wnt Pathway

Wnt proteins are a family of secreted glycolipids involved in the regulation of embryogenesis and tissue homeostasis. The Wnt pathways are fundamental in cell proliferation, cell polarity and cell fate determination. Misregulation of these signaling pathways has been linked to several human pathologies such as cancer, diabetes and some inherited diseases.

Wnt Pathway

There are three well-studied Wnt signaling pathways. The most established pathway, Wnt/beta-catenin, is highly conserved throughout metazoans and serves as a stem cell niche signal. This pathway retains an inactivated or activated state, and as such regulates the amount of transcriptional co-activator beta-catenin. In the absence of Wnt, cytoplasmic beta-catenin protein is constantly degraded by the action of a destruction complex. In the activated state, Wnt binds to a receptor complex containing Frizzled (Fzd) and low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5/6 (LRP5/6), the destruction complex is inactivated allowing the stabilization and nuclear import of beta-catenin.

The other two pathways are the Planar pathway and the Wnt/calcium pathway. Both function independently of beta-catenin. Wnt also regulates a number of other signaling pathways still being actively researched.

Helping your research

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