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Keywords:

  • β-catenin dependent pathway;
  • lineage differentiation;
  • pluripotency;
  • stem cells;
  • WNT signaling

WNT signaling activity is involved in the regulation of many cellular functions, including proliferation, migration, cell fate specification, maintenance of pluripotency and induction of tumorigenicity. Here we summarize recent progress towards understanding the regulation of canonical WNT/β-catenin signaling activity through feedback regulatory loops involving the ligands, agonists and antagonists, the availability of intracellular pools of active β-catenin and the cross-regulation of the WNT activity by β-catenin independent pathway. We also review recent findings on the role of WNT/β-catenin signaling in tissue lineage differentiation during embryogenesis and the maintenance and self renewal of embryo-derived stem cells in vitro.