The cranial bones and dermis differentiate from mesenchyme beneath the surface ectoderm. Fate selection in cranial mesenchyme requires the canonical Wnt effector molecule ß-catenin, but the relative contribution of Wnt ligand sources in this process remains unknown. Here we show Wnt ligands are expressed in cranial surface ectoderm and underlying supraorbital mesenchyme during dermal and osteoblast fate selection. Using conditional genetics, we eliminate secretion of all Wnt ligands from cranial surface ectoderm or undifferentiated mesenchyme, to uncover distinct roles for ectoderm- and mesenchyme-derived Wnts. Ectoderm Wnt ligands induce osteoblast and dermal fibroblast progenitor specification while initiating expression of a subset of mesenchymal Wnts. Mesenchyme Wnt ligands are subsequently essential during differentiation of dermal and osteoblast progenitors. Finally, ectoderm-derived Wnt ligands provide an inductive cue to the cranial mesenchyme for the fate selection of dermal fibroblast and osteoblast lineages. Thus two sources of Wnt ligands perform distinct functions during osteoblast and dermal fibroblast formation.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004152
View details for Web of Science ID 000332021500027
View details for PubMedID 24586192
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3930509