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Animal multicellularity and polarity without Wnt signaling

Abstract : Acquisition of multicellularity is a central event in the evolution of Eukaryota. Strikingly, animal multicellularity coincides with the emergence of three intercellular communication pathways – Notch, TGF-β and Wnt – all considered as hallmarks of metazoan development. By investigating Oopsacas minuta and Aphrocallistes vastus, we show here that the emergence of a syncytium and plugged junctions in glass sponges coincides with the loss of essential components of the Wnt signaling (i.e. Wntless, Wnt ligands and Disheveled), whereas core components of the TGF-β and Notch modules appear unaffected. This suggests that Wnt signaling is not essential for cell differentiation, polarity and morphogenesis in glass sponges. Beyond providing a comparative study of key developmental toolkits, we define here the first case of a metazoan phylum that maintained a level of complexity similar to its relatives despite molecular degeneration of Wnt pathways.
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Quentin Schenkelaars, Marine Pratlong, Laurent Kodjabachian, Laura Fierro-Constain, Jean Vacelet, et al.. Animal multicellularity and polarity without Wnt signaling. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7 (1), pp.1-11/15383. ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-15557-5⟩. ⟨hal-01680462⟩

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