The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 42: 573 - 579 (1998)

Vol 42, Issue 4

HrWnt-5: a maternally expressed ascidian Wnt gene with posterior localization in early embryos

Published: 1 May 1998

Y Sasakura, M Ogasawara and K W Makabe

Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Japan.


Ascidians show a highly determinate mode of development. In particular, components of the posterior-vegetal cytoplasm of fertilized eggs are responsible for the establishment of the embryonic axis. Recent studies have, however, also revealed significant roles of cell-cell interactions during embryogenesis. Proteins encoded by the Wnt family of genes act as signals and have been shown to play important roles in a wide range of developmental processes. Here we have isolated and characterized an ascidian Wnt gene, HrWnt-5, from Halocynthia roretzi. HrWnt-5 mRNA is present in the vegetal cortex in unfertilized eggs. After fertilization, HrWnt-5 mRNA moves to the equatorial region to form a crescent-like structure, after which the mRNA is concentrated in the posteriormost region of the embryo. This early pattern of HrWnt-5 mRNA localization coincides with another posterior-vegetally localized mRNA, pem, isolated from Ciona savignyi. In the gastrula, the zygotic HrWnt-5 mRNA is found in a variety of blastomeres, suggesting multiple roles of the gene.

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