Author(s): Wagner J, Schmidt C, Nikowits W Jr, Christ B
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Abstract Muscles of the body and bones of the axial skeleton derive from specialized regions of somites. Somite development is influenced by adjacent structures. In particular, the dorsal neural tube and the overlying ectoderm have been shown to be necessary for the induction of myogenic precursor cells in the dermomyotome. Members of the Wnt family of signaling molecules, which are expressed in the dorsal neural tube and the ectoderm, are postulated to be responsible for this process. It is shown here that ectopically implanted Wnt-1-, -3a-, and -4-expressing cells alter the process of somite compartmentalization in vivo. An enlarged dorsal compartment results from the implantation of Wnt-expressing cells ventrally between the neural tube/notochord and epithelial somites, at the expense of the ventral compartment, the sclerotome. Thus, ectopic Wnt expression is able to override the influence of ventralizing signals arising from notochord and floor plate. This shift of the border between the two compartments was identified by an increase in the domain of Pax-3 expression and a complete loss of Pax-1 expression in somites close to the ectopic Wnt signal. The expanded expression of MyoD and desmin provides evidence that it is the myotome which increases as a result of Wnt signaling. Paraxis expression is also drastically amplified after implantation of Wnt-expressing cells indicating that Wnts are involved in the formation and maintenance of somite epithelium and suggesting that Paraxis is activated through Wnt signaling pathways. Taken together these results suggest that ectopic Wnts disturb the normal balance of signaling molecules within the somite, resulting in an enhanced recruitment of somitic cells into the myogenic lineage. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
This article was published in Dev Biol
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy