Expression and function of Wnt5a in the development of the glandular stomach in the chicken embryo

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The epithelium of the chicken embryonic glandular stomach (proventriculus) differentiates into both a glandular and a luminal epithelium, the cells of which express specific marker genes. The subsequent formation and differentiation of the glands then proceed under the influence of the mesenchyme. To search for possible candidates for the mesenchymal factors involved, we have now investigated the expression and function of Wnt5a in this process. Our current results show that Wnt5a is expressed in the mesenchyme during active gland formation and that overexpression of this gene in ovo results in the increased and ectopic expression of some of the marker genes of the luminal and glandular epithelia. In particular, the overexpression of Wnt5a markedly enhances the expression of the embryonic chicken pepsinogen gene, a marker of the glandular epithelium, indicating its role as a mesenchymal factor that regulates the differentiation of the proventricular epithelium.

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