Wnt-3a is one of 19 vertebrate members of the Wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt) family of highly conserved cysteine-rich secreted glycoproteins important for normal developmental processes. Wnts bind to the cell surface Frizzled family receptors in conjunction with low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein family receptors (LRP5 or 6) resulting in the stabilization of intracellular beta-catenin levels. During embryonic development, Wnt-3a is necessary for proper development of the hippocampus, anterior-posterior patterning, somite development, and tailbud formation. Wnt-3a also promotes self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells, neural stem cells, and embryonic stem cells.
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