Wnt/ß-catenin signalling and the dynamics of fate decisions in early mouse embryos and embryonic stem (ES) cells

Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology
Silvia Muñoz-DescalzoAlfonso Martinez Arias


Wnt/ß-catenin signalling is a widespread cell signalling pathway with multiple roles during vertebrate development. In mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells, there is a dual role for ß-catenin: it promotes differentiation when activated as part of the Wnt/ß-catenin signalling pathway, and promotes stable pluripotency independently of signalling. Although mES cells resemble the preimplantation epiblast progenitors, the first requirement for Wnt/ß-catenin signalling during mouse development has been reported at implantation [1,2]. The relationship between ß-catenin and pluripotency and that of mES cells with epiblast progenitors suggests that ß-catenin might have a functional role during preimplantation development. Here we summarize the expression and function of Wnt/ß-catenin signalling elements during the early stages of mouse development and consider the reasons why the requirement in ES cells do not reflect the embryo.


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