Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Role of Wnt11b protein in the regulation of gastrulation – when a fertilised egg becomes a multilayered structure

02 December 2022

Timing is Everything

Getting from fertilised egg to offspring requires military precision and the coordination of many different things, especially during the first few days after fertilisation. Many molecules need to be in the right place at the right time so the process can seamlessly move from one stage to the next. One major stage of development is called gastrulation (happening in this looped video). This is the process where a two-dimensional layer of cells reorganises itself and contorts into a structure with multiple layers. This means the embryo knows to make the gut on the inside for example, and the skin on the outside. This patterning of the embryo is critical for success, and now researchers have found that a protein called Wnt11b is important for the timing of gastrulation. Using frog embryos, researchers removed Wnt11b resulting in a delay to gastrulation (right) compared to normal embryos (left). Without Wnt11b, the timing of development goes awry.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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