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Keywords:

  • exosomes;
  • lipid modification;
  • morphogen gradient;
  • retromer;
  • Wnt secretion;
  • Wntless

Proteins of the Wnt family are secreted signaling molecules that regulate multiple processes in animal development and control tissue homeostasis in the adult. Wnts spread over considerable distances to regulate gene expression in cells located at distant sites. Paradoxically, Wnts are poorly mobile because of their posttranslational modification with lipids. Recent evidence suggests that several pathways exist that are capable of transforming hydrophobic, insoluble Wnts into long-range signaling molecules. Furthermore, the discovery of Wntless as a protein specifically required for the secretion of Wnt suggests that Wnt trafficking through the secretory pathway is already under special scrutiny. Here, we review recent data on the molecular machinery that controls Wnt secretion and discuss how Wnts can be mobilized for long-range signaling.