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Role of Wnt11b protein in the regulation of gastrulation – when a fertilised egg becomes a multilayered structure

02 December 2022

Timing is Everything

Getting from fertilised egg to offspring requires military precision and the coordination of many different things, especially during the first few days after fertilisation. Many molecules need to be in the right place at the right time so the process can seamlessly move from one stage to the next. One major stage of development is called gastrulation (happening in this looped video). This is the process where a two-dimensional layer of cells reorganises itself and contorts into a structure with multiple layers. This means the embryo knows to make the gut on the inside for example, and the skin on the outside. This patterning of the embryo is critical for success, and now researchers have found that a protein called Wnt11b is important for the timing of gastrulation. Using frog embryos, researchers removed Wnt11b resulting in a delay to gastrulation (right) compared to normal embryos (left). Without Wnt11b, the timing of development goes awry.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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