Wnts: up-and-coming at the synapse

Sean D. Speese, Vivian Budnik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Synaptic development, function and plasticity are highly regulated processes requiring a precise coordination of pre- and postsynaptic events. Recent studies have begun to highlight Wingless-Int (Wnt) signaling as a key player in synapse differentiation and function. Emerging roles of Wnts include the differentiation of synaptic specializations, microtubule dynamics, architecture of synaptic protein organization, modulation of synaptic efficacy and regulation of gene expression. These processes are driven by a variety of Wnt transduction pathways. Combined with a myriad of Wnts and Frizzled receptor family members, these pathways highlight the versatility of Wnt signaling and the potential for combinatorial use of these pathways in different aspects of synapse development and function. The identification of neurons secreting Wnt and those containing molecular components downstream of Frizzled receptors indicates that Wnts can function both as anterograde and retrograde signals. These studies open new avenues for understanding how embryonic morphogens are utilized during the development and function of synaptic networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-275
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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