Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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From individual Wnt pathways towards a Wnt signalling network

Hans A Kestler

Hans A Kestler

Clinic for Internal Medicine I, Medical Centre Ulm UniversityRobert-Koch-Strasse 8, 89081 Ulm, Germany

Institute for Neural Information Processing, Ulm UniversityAlbert-Einstein-Allee 11, 89081 Ulm, Germany

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Michael Kühl

Michael Kühl

Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Ulm UniversityAlbert-Einstein-Allee 11, 89081 Ulm, Germany

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    Wnt proteins play important roles during vertebrate and invertebrate development. They obviously have the ability to activate different intracellular signalling pathways. Based on the characteristic intracellular mediators used, these are commonly described as the Wnt/β-catenin, the Wnt/calcium and the Wnt/Jun N-terminal kinase pathways (also called planar cell polarity pathway). In the past, these different signalling events were mainly described as individual and independent signalling branches. Here, we discuss the possibility that Wnt proteins activate a complex intracellular signalling network rather than individual pathways and suggest a graph representation of this network. Furthermore, we discuss different ways of how to predict the specific outcome of an activation of this network in a particular cell type, which will require the use of mathematical models. We point out that the use of deterministic approaches via the application of differential equations is suitable to model only small aspects of the whole network and that more qualitative approaches are possibly a suitable starting point for the prediction of the global behaviour of such large protein interaction networks.

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