Update on the Role of the Non-Canonical Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity Pathway in Neural Tube Defects

Mingqin Wang, Patrizia de Marco, Valeria Capra, Zoha Kibar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina bifida and anencephaly, represent the most severe and common malformations of the central nervous system affecting 0.7-3 per 1000 live births. They result from the failure of neural tube closure during the first few weeks of pregnancy. They have a complex etiology that implicate a large number of genetic and environmental factors that remain largely undetermined. Extensive studies in vertebrate models have strongly implicated the non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling pathway in the pathogenesis of NTDs. The defects in this pathway lead to a defective convergent extension that is a major morphogenetic process essential for neural tube elongation and subsequent closure. A large number of genetic studies in human NTDs have demonstrated an important role of PCP signaling in their etiology. However, the relative contribution of this pathway to this complex etiology awaits a better picture of the complete genetic architecture of these defects. The emergence of new genome technologies and bioinformatics pipelines, complemented with the powerful tool of animal models for variant interpretation as well as significant collaborative efforts, will help to dissect the complex genetics of NTDs. The ultimate goal is to develop better preventive and counseling strategies for families affected by these devastating conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 4 2019


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