Nuclear beta-catenin-dependent Wnt8 signaling in vegetal cells of the early sea urchin embryo regulates gastrulation and differentiation of endoderm and mesodermal cell lineages.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The entry of beta-catenin into vegetal cell nuclei beginning at the 16-cell stage is one of the earliest known molecular asymmetries seen along the animal-vegetal axis in the sea urchin embryo. Nuclear beta-catenin activates a vegetal signaling cascade that mediates micromere specification and specification of the endomesoderm in the remaining cells of the vegetal half of the embryo. Only a few potential target genes of nuclear beta-catenin have been functionally analyzed in the sea urchin embryo. Here, we show that SpWnt8, a Wnt8 homolog from Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, is zygotically activated specifically in 16-cell-stage micromeres in a nuclear beta-catenin-dependent manner, and its expression remains restricted to the micromeres until the 60-cell stage. At the late 60-cell stage nuclear beta-catenin-dependent SpWnt8 expression expands to the veg2 cell tier. SpWnt8 is the only signaling molecule thus far identified with expression localized to the 16-60-cell stage micromeres and the veg2 tier. Overexpression of SpWnt8 by mRNA microinjection produced embryos with multiple invagination sites and showed that, consistent with its localization, SpWnt8 is a strong inducer of endoderm. Blocking SpWnt8 function using SpWnt8 morpholino antisense oligonucleotides produced embryos that formed micromeres that could transmit the early endomesoderm-inducing signal, but these cells failed to differentiate as primary mesenchyme cells. SpWnt8-morpholino embryos also did not form endoderm, or secondary mesenchyme-derived pigment and muscle cells, indicating a role for SpWnt8 in gastrulation and in the differentiation of endomesodermal lineages. These results establish SpWnt8 as a critical component of the endomesoderm regulatory network in the sea urchin embryo.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wikramanayake, AH; Peterson, R; Chen, J; Huang, L; Bince, JM; McClay, DR; Klein, WH

Published Date

  • July 1, 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 194 - 205

PubMed ID

  • 15282746

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1526-968X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1526-954X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/gene.20045


  • eng