Research NewsDevelopmental Biology

Receptor for Vital Protein Finally Found

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Science  19 Jul 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5273, pp. 309
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5273.309


Biologists, like wiretappers eavesdropping on clandestine molecular conversations, have been trying to trace protein signals as they travel from one cell to another and then to the recipient's genes. But some of the connections have been hard to pin down, none more so than the “Wnt” proteins, which help trigger the growth of the cerebellum in mice and—in some cases—cancerous cell proliferation. Researchers just haven't been able to identify the receptor molecules on the cell surface that pick up a Wnt signal and relay it to the interior. Now, however, researchers have identified the receptor for one Wnt family member, the fruit fly protein Wingless. With it, they can get a clear look at the molecules that carry Wingless's signal to the nucleus and determine the exact genes that receive this signal.