Expression of WNT signalling pathway genes during chicken craniofacial development



A comprehensive expression analysis of WNT signalling pathway genes during several stages of chicken facial development was performed. Thirty genes were surveyed including: WNT1, 2B, 3A, 4, 5A, 5B, 6, 7A, 7B, 8B, 8C, 9A, 9B, 11, 11B, 16, CTNNB1, LEF1, FRZB1, DKK1, DKK2, FZD1-8, FZD10. The strictly canonical WNTs (2B, 7A, 9B, and 16) in addition to WNT4 WNT6 (both canonical and non-canonical) are epithelially expressed, whereas WNT5A, 5B, 11 are limited to the mesenchyme. WNT16 is limited to the invaginating nasal pit, respiratory epithelium, and lip fusion zone. Antagonists DKK1 and FRZB1 are expressed in the fusing primary palate but then are decreased at stage 28 when fusion is beginning. This suggests that canonical WNT signalling may be active during lip fusion. Mediators of canonical signalling, CTNNB1, LEF1, and the majority of the FZD genes are expressed ubiquitously. These data show that activation of the canonical WNT pathway is feasible in all regions of the face; however, the localization of ligands and antagonists confers specificity. Developmental Dynamics 238:1150–1165, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.