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Wnt2/2b and beta-catenin signaling are necessary and sufficient to specify lung progenitors in the foregut.

Goss A.M., Tian Y., Tsukiyama T., Cohen E.D., Zhou D., Lu M.M., Yamaguchi T.P., Morrisey E.E.

Patterning of the primitive foregut promotes appropriate organ specification along its anterior-posterior axis. However, the molecular pathways specifying foregut endoderm progenitors are poorly understood. We show here that Wnt2/2b signaling is required to specify lung endoderm progenitors within the anterior foregut. Embryos lacking Wnt2/2b expression exhibit complete lung agenesis and do not express Nkx2.1, the earliest marker of the lung endoderm. In contrast, other foregut endoderm-derived organs, including the thyroid, liver, and pancreas, are correctly specified. The phenotype observed is recapitulated by an endoderm-restricted deletion of beta-catenin, demonstrating that Wnt2/2b signaling through the canonical Wnt pathway is required to specify lung endoderm progenitors within the foregut. Moreover, activation of canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling results in the reprogramming of esophagus and stomach endoderm to a lung endoderm progenitor fate. Together, these data reveal that canonical Wnt2/2b signaling is required for the specification of lung endoderm progenitors in the developing foregut.

Dev. Cell 17:290-298(2009) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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