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Wnt ligand presentation and reception: From the stem cell niche to tissue engineering

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number170140
JournalOpen Biology
Issue number8
Accepted/In press21 Jul 2017
Published16 Aug 2017


King's Authors


Stem cells reside in niches where spatially restricted signals maintain a delicate balance between stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Wnt family proteins are particularly suited for this role as they are modified by lipids,which constrain and spatially regulate their signalling range. In recent years, Wnt/b-catenin signalling has been shown to be essential for the self-renewal of a variety of mammalian stem cells. In this review, we discuss Wnt-responsive stem cells in their niche, and mechanisms by which Wnt ligands are presented to responsive cells. We also highlight recent progressin molecular visualization that has allowed for the monitoring of Wnt signalling within the stem cell compartment and new approaches to recapitulate this niche signalling in vitro. Indeed, new technologies that present Wnt in a localized manner and mimic the three-dimensional microenvironment of stem cells will advance our understanding of Wnt signalling in the stem cell niche. These advances will expand current horizons to exploit Wnt ligands in the rapidly evolving fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

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