How Wnt Signaling Builds the Brain: Bridging Development and Disease

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Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays a crucial role throughout all stages of brain development and remains important in the adult brain. Accordingly, many neurological disorders have been linked to Wnt signaling. Defects in Wnt signaling during neural development can give rise to birth defects or lead to neurological dysfunction later in life. Developmental signaling events can also be hijacked in the adult and result in disease. Moreover, knowledge about the physiological role of Wnt signaling in the brain might lead to new therapeutic strategies for neurological diseases. Especially, the important role for Wnt signaling in neural differentiation of pluripotent stem cells has received much attention as this might provide a cure for neurodegenerative disorders. In this review, we summarize the versatile role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling during neural development and discuss some recent studies linking Wnt signaling to neurological disorders.

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