Pass the Wnt, from secretion to signalling


  • Prof Yvonne Jones

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  • Dr Jean-Paul Vincent

    The Francis Crick Institute, United Kingdom

  • Prof Henrik Clausen

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Prof Guillaume Salbreux

    University of Geneva, Switzerland

Project summary

Much like humans in societies, cells in tissues and organs must communicate so that they can coordinate their activities. One common form of cell communication involves secreted proteins that are produced by a subset of cells and spread to surrounding cells, where they bind to surface receptors and trigger changes in gene activity. For cells to work seamlessly together during development and homeostasis, it is crucial that signals spread over the right distance. We are proposing to study this question for a class of signalling proteins called Wnts, which control stem cell behaviour and have been shown to trigger cancer when overactivated. We will map all the interactions that Wnts make in the extracellular space and determine how they ensure that Wnts reach the appropriate cells. With this knowledge, it will become possible to tune the range of Wnt action in the context of regenerative medicine or anti-cancer treatments.