A genome-wide survey of the evolutionarily conserved Wnt pathways in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

Jenifer C. Croce, Shu Yu Wu, Christine Byrum, Ronghui Xu, Louise Duloquin, Athula H. Wikramanayake, Christian Gache, David R. McClay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The Wnt pathways are evolutionarily well-conserved signal transduction pathways that are known to play important roles in all Metazoans investigated to date. Here, we examine the Wnt pathway genes and target genes present in the genome of the echinoderm Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Analysis of the Wnt genes revealed that eleven of the thirteen reported Wnt subfamilies are represented in sea urchin, with the intriguing identification of a Wnt-A ortholog thought to be absent in deuterostomes. A phylogenetic study of the Frizzled proteins, the Wnt receptors, performed throughout the animal kingdom showed that not all Frizzled subfamilies were present in the metazoan common ancestor, e.g. Fz3/6 emerged later during evolution. Using sequence analysis, orthologs of the vast majority of the cellular machinery involved in transducing the three types of Wnt pathways were found in the sea urchin genome. Furthermore, of about one hundred target genes identified in other organisms, more than half have clear echinoderm orthologs. Thus, these analyses produce new inputs in the evolutionary history of the Wnt genes in an animal occupying a position that offers great insights into the basal properties of deuterostomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Canonical
  • Frizzled
  • Genome survey
  • Planar cell polarity (PCP)
  • Sea urchin
  • Wnt
  • Wnt/calcium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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