Witzel, S., Zimyanin, V., Carreira-Barbosa, F., Tada, M., and Heisenberg, C.P. (2006) Wnt11 controls cell contact persistence by local accumulation of Frizzled 7 at the plasma membrane. The Journal of cell biology. 175(5):791-802.
Wnt11 is a key signal, determining cell polarization and migration during vertebrate gastrulation. It is known that Wnt11 functionally interacts with several signaling components, the homologues of which control planar cell polarity in Drosophila melanogaster. Although in D. melanogaster these components are thought to polarize cells by asymmetrically localizing at the plasma membrane, it is not yet clear whether their subcellular localization plays a similarly important role in vertebrates. We show that in zebrafish embryonic cells, Wnt11 locally functions at the plasma membrane by accumulating its receptor, Frizzled 7, on adjacent sites of cell contacts. Wnt11-induced Frizzled 7 accumulations recruit the intracellular Wnt signaling mediator Dishevelled, as well as Wnt11 itself, and locally increase cell contact persistence. This increase in cell contact persistence is mediated by the local interaction of Wnt11, Frizzled 7, and the atypical cadherin Flamingo at the plasma membrane, and it does not require the activity of further downstream effectors of Wnt11 signaling, such as RhoA and Rok2. We propose that Wnt11, by interacting with Frizzled 7 and Flamingo, modulates local cell contact persistence to coordinate cell movements during gastrulation.