Migrating cells mediate long-range WNT signaling

Olivier Serralbo, Christophe Marcelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


In amniotes, it is widely accepted that WNTs secreted by the dorsal neural tube form a concentration gradient that regulates early somite patterning and myotome organization. Here we demonstrate in the chicken embryo that WNT protein is not secreted to act at a distance, but rather loaded onto migrating neural crest cells that deliver it to somites. Inhibiting neural crest migration or ablating their population has a profound impact on the WNT response in somites. Furthermore, we show that a central player in the efficient delivery of WNT to somites is the heparan sulfate proteoglycan GPC4, expressed by neural crest. Together, our data describe a novel mode of signaling whereby WNT proteins hitch a ride on migratory neural crest cells to pattern the somites at a distance from its source.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2057 - 2063
Number of pages7
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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