Generation of mice with a conditional null allele for Wntless.
The Wnt-signaling pathway is necessary in a variety of developmental processes and has been implicated in numerous pathologies. Wntless (Wls) binds to Wnt proteins and facilitates Wnt sorting and secretion. Conventional deletion of Wls results in early fetal lethality due to defects in body axis establishment. To gain insight into the function of Wls in later stages of development, we have generated a conditional null allele. Homozygous germline deletion of Wls confirmed prenatal lethality and failure of embryonic axis formation. Deletion of Wls using Wnt1-cre phenocopied Wnt1 null abnormalities in the midbrain and hindbrain. In addition, conditional deletion of Wls in pancreatic precursor cells resulted in pancreatic hypoplasia similar to that previously observed after conditional β-catenin deletion. This Wls conditional null allele will be valuable in detecting novel Wnt functions in development and disease.