The evolution of the Wnt pathway
Authors: Holstein TW
CellNetworks People: Holstein Thomas
Journal: Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Jul 1;4(7):a007922. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a007922

Wnt genes are important regulators of embryogenesis and cell differentiation in vertebrates and insects. New data revealed by comparative genomics have now shown that members of the Wnt signaling pathway can be found in all clades of metazoans, but not in fungi, plants, or unicellular eukaryotes. This article focuses on new data from recent genomic analyses of several basal metazoan organisms, providing evidence that the Wnt pathway was a primordial signaling pathway during evolution. The formation of a Wnt signaling center at the site of gastrulation was instrumental for the formation of a primary, anterior-posterior body axis, which can be traced throughout animal evolution.