Wnt6 signaling regulates heart muscle development during organogenesis

Danielle L. Lavery, Jennifer Martin, Yvonne D. Turnbull, Stefan Hoppler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


Mesodermal tissue with heart forming potential (cardiogenic mesoderm) is induced during gastrulation. This cardiogenic mesoderm later differentiates into heart muscle tissue (myocardium) and non-muscular heart tissue. Inhibition of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is known to be required early for induction of cardiogenic mesoderm: however, the identity of the inhibiting Writ signal itself is still elusive. We have identified Wnt6 in Xenopus as an endogenous Writ signal, which is expressed in tissues close to and later inside the developing heart. Our loss-of-function experiments show that Wnt6 function is required in the embryo to prevent development of an abnormally large heart muscle. We find, however, that Wnt6 is not required as expected during gastrulation stages, but later during organogenesis stages just before cells of the cardiogenic mesoderm begin to differentiate into heart muscle (myocardium). Our gain-of-function experiments show that Wnt6 and also activated canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling are capable of restricting heart muscle development at these relatively late stages of development. This repressive role of Wilt signaling is mediated initially via repression of cardiogenic transcription factors, since reinstatement of GATA function can rescue expression of other cardiogenic transcription factors and downstream cardiomyogenic differentiation genes. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-188
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Early online date9 Sept 2008
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2008


  • Wnt
  • xenopus
  • heart
  • organogenesis
  • embryonic stem-cells
  • cardiac troponin-I
  • xenopus embryos
  • gene-expression
  • beta-catenin
  • laevis
  • cardiomyogenesis
  • specification
  • morphogenesis
  • transcription


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