Hino, H., Nakanishi, A., Seki, R., Aoki, T., Yamaha, E., Kawahara, A., Shimizu, T., Hibi, M. (2017) Roles of maternal wnt8a transcripts in axis formation in zebrafish. Developmental Biology. 434(1):96-107.
In early zebrafish development, the program for dorsal axis formation begins soon after fertilization. Previous studies suggested that dorsal determinants (DDs) localize to the vegetal pole, and are transported to the dorsal blastomeres in a microtubule-dependent manner. The DDs activate the canonical Wnt pathway and induce dorsal-specific genes that are required for dorsal axis formation. Among wnt-family genes, only the wnt8a mRNA is reported to localize to the vegetal pole in oocytes and to induce the dorsal axis, suggesting that Wnt8a is a candidate DD. Here, to reveal the roles of maternal wnt8a, we generated wnt8a mutants by transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and established zygotic, maternal, and maternal zygotic wnt8a mutants by germ-line replacement. Zebrafish wnt8a has two open reading frames (ORF1 and ORF2) that are tandemly located in the genome. Although the zygotic ORF1 or ORF2 wnt8a mutants showed little or no axis-formation defects, the ORF1/2 compound mutants showed antero-dorsalized phenotypes, indicating that ORF1 and ORF2 have redundant roles in ventrolateral and posterior tissue formation. Unexpectedly, the maternal wnt8a ORF1/2 mutants showed no axis-formation defects. The maternal-zygotic wnt8a ORF1/2 mutants showed more severe antero-dorsalized phenotypes than the zygotic mutants. These results indicated that maternal wnt8a is dispensable for the initial dorsal determination, but cooperates with zygotic wnt8a for ventrolateral and posterior tissue formation. Finally, we re-examined the maternal wnt genes and found that Wnt6a is an alternative candidate DD.