Vertebrate gastrulation entails massive cell movements that establish and shape the germ layers. During gastrulation, the individual cell behaviors are strictly coordinated in time and space by various signaling pathways. These pathways instruct the cells about proliferation, shape, fate and migration into proper location. Convergence and extension (C&E) movements during vertebrate gastrulation play a major role in the shaping of the embryonic body. In vertebrates, the Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity (Wnt/PCP) pathway is a key regulator of C&E movements, essential for several polarized cell behaviors, including directed cell migration, and mediolateral and radial cell intercalation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the acquisition of Planar Cell Polarity by highly dynamic mesenchymal cells engaged in C&E are still not well understood. Here we review new evidence implicating the Wnt/PCP pathway in specific cell behaviors required for C&E during zebrafish gastrulation, in comparison to other vertebrates. We also discuss findings on the molecular regulation and the interaction of the Wnt/PCP pathway with other signaling pathways during gastrulation movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-997
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Convergence and extension
  • Gastrulation
  • Non-canonical Wnt
  • Planar Cell Polarity (PCP)
  • Zebrafish


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