How Does Wnt Signaling Posteriorize the Neural Plate?
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Early in vertebrate development, the neural plate, from which the central nervous system forms, is subdivided into four gross domains through a process called patterning. Defects in neural plate patterning can have severe effects on brain development and can cause an array of catastrophic birth defects such as anencephaly and midbrain-hindbrain malformations. Thus, understanding how neural plate patterning occurs is crucial for understanding the causes of an array of human birth defects. The genes sp5 and sp5l are thought to mediate neural plate patterning in response to signaling by the Wnt signal transduction pathway, but direct evidence connecting Wnt signaling to sp5 and sp5l gene expression in the neural plate has not been identified. In order to obtain such evidence, we are generating transgenic sp5 and sp5l reporters and comparing their expression in Wnt gain and loss of function conditions. For each reporter, we made mutations to predicted transcription factor binding sites to determine how the reporters are controlled by the Wnt pathway. In so doing, we will test the hypothesis that the regulation of sp5 and sp5l is influenced by Wnt signaling during neural plate patterning. We will present data regarding transgene construction and characterization of the reporter expression patterns.
Lee, Jeffrey Joon Taek (2013). How Does Wnt Signaling Posteriorize the Neural Plate?. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from