Published on Sun Sep 12 2021

Positive Feedback Regulation of fzd7 Expression Robustly Shapes Wnt Signaling Range in Early Heart Development

Yamamoto, T., Kambayashi, Y., Afouda, B., Otsuka, Y., Giuraniuc, C., Michiue, T., Hoppler, S.

Secreted molecules called morphogens govern tissue patterning in a concentration-dependent manner. Wnt is a morphogen that organizes cardiac development; especially Wnt6 patterns the cardiogenic mesoderm to induce differentiation of a thin pericardium in Xenopus.

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Abstract

Secreted molecules called morphogens govern tissue patterning in a concentration-dependent manner. However, it is still unclear how reproducible patterning can be achieved with diffusing molecules, especially when patterning differentiation of a thin region. Wnt is a morphogen that organizes cardiac development; especially Wnt6 patterns the cardiogenic mesoderm to induce differentiation of a thin pericardium in Xenopus. It is, however, unclear how Wnt6 can pattern such a thin tissue. In this study, we reveal that a Wnt receptor, frizzled7, is expressed in a Wnt-dependent manner in the prospective heart region, and that this receptor-feedback is essential for shaping a steep gradient of Wnt. In addition, the feedback imparts robustness against fluctuations of Wnt ligand production and allows the system to reach a steady state quickly. We also found a Wnt antagonist sFRP1, which is expressed at the opposite side of Wnt source, accumulates on a novel type of heparan sulfate (HS), N-acetyl-rich HS, which is highly presented in the outer of cardiogenic mesoderm, achieving local inhibition of Wnt signaling by restricting sFRP1 spreading. These two intricate regulatory systems restrict Wnt signaling and ensure reproducible patterning of a thin pericardium tissue.