Warburg-like metabolism coordinates FGF and Wnt signaling in the vertebrate embryo
Mammalian embryos transiently exhibit aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect), a metabolic adaptation also observed in cancer cells. The role of this particular type of metabolism during vertebrate organogenesis is currently unknown. Here, we provide evidence for spatio-temporal regulation of aerobic glycolysis in the posterior region of mouse and chicken embryos. We show that a posterior glycolytic gradient is established in response to graded transcription of glycolytic enzymes downstream of FGF signaling. We demonstrate that glycolysis controls posterior elongation of the embryonic axis by regulating cell motility in the presomitic mesoderm and by controlling specification of the paraxial mesoderm fate in the tail bud. Our results suggest that Warburg metabolism in the tail bud coordinates Wnt and FGF signaling to promote elongation of the embryonic axis.