A Wnt oscillator model for somitogenesis

Peter Bjødstrup Jensen, Lykke Pedersen, Sandeep Krishna, Mogens H Jensen, Peter Bjødstrup Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We propose a model for the segmentation clock in vertebrate somitogenesis, based on the Wnt signaling pathway. The core of the model is a negative feedback loop centered around the Axin2 protein. Axin2 is activated by beta-catenin, which in turn is degraded by a complex of GSK3beta and Axin2. The model produces oscillatory states of the involved constituents with typical time periods of a few hours (ultradian oscillations). The oscillations are robust to changes in parameter values and are often spiky, where low concentration values of beta-catenin are interrupted by sharp peaks. Necessary for the oscillations is the saturated degradation of Axin2. Somite formation in chick and mouse embryos is controlled by a spatial Wnt gradient which we introduce in the model through a time-dependent decrease in Wnt3a ligand level. We find that the oscillations disappear as the ligand concentration decreases, in agreement with observations on embryos.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)943-50
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 17. Mar 2010


  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks
  • Computer Simulation
  • Embryonic Development
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Somites
  • Wnt Proteins


Dive into the research topics of 'A Wnt oscillator model for somitogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this