Korswagen: Wnt signaling in development and disease

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The Korswagen group studies canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling mechanisms using the model system Caenorhabditis elegans.

Migrating QR neuroblast.

Wnt signaling plays a central role in embryonic development, adult tissue homeostasis and cancer. At the cellular level, Wnt proteins can trigger a wide variety of responses, ranging from cell fate specification and proliferation to cell polarization and migration. We are interested in the mechanism of the canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling pathways that mediate these different responses. As a model we use the nematode C. elegans, which offers a powerful genetic system to study evolutionarily conserved Wnt signaling mechanisms at single cell resolution.


Key publicationsView all publications

Cell intrinsic modulation of Wnt signaling controls neuroblast migration in C. elegans.

Mentink RA, Middelkoop TC, Rella L, Ji N, van Oudenaarden A, Korswagen HC.

Developmental Cell 31: 188-201.


A SNX3-dependent Retromer pathway mediates retrograde transport of the Wnt sorting receptor Wntless and is required for Wnt secretion.

Harterink M, Port F, Lorenowicz M, McGough I, Silhankova M, Betist M, van Weering J, van Heesbeen R, Middelkoop T, Basler K, Cullen P, Korswagen HC.

Nature Cell Biology 13:914-923.


See also: News & Views Highlight in EMBO J

Functional interaction between beta-catenin and FOXO in oxidative stress signaling.

Essers MA, de Vries-Smits LMM, Barker N, Polderman PE, Burgering BMT, Korswagen HC.

Science 308: 1181-1184.


Feedback control of gene expression variability in the Caenorhabditis elegans Wnt pathway.

Ji N, Middelkoop TC, Mentink RA, Betist MC, Tonegawa S, Mooijman D, Korswagen HC*, van Oudenaarden A*

Cell 155: 869-880.


*Joint senior/corresponding authors. See also: Cell video abstract

Wnt signaling requires retromer dependent recycling of MIG-14/Wls in Wnt producing cells.

Yang PT, Lorenowicz M, Silhankova M, Coudreuse DYM, Betist MC, Korswagen HC.

Developmental Cell 14: 140-147.


Wnt gradient formation requires retromer function in Wnt producing cells.

Coudreuse DYM, Roel G, Betist MC, Destree O, Korswagen HC.

Science 312: 921-924.


Group leader

Rik Korswagen

Rik Korswagen is a group leader at the Hubrecht Institute and professor of Molecular Developmental Genetics at Utrecht University. His group is interested in the mechanism of Wnt signal transduction in development and disease and uses the C. elegans model system to study Wnt signaling at single cell resolution. His current research focuses on canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling mechanisms in cell migration, which he studies using a combination of genetics, time-lapse confocal imaging, RNA sequencing and single molecule mRNA in situ hybridization.

Scientific training and positions


Current other activities

Group members

Rik Korswagen

Principal Investigator

Marco Betist

Lab Assistant

Euclides Povoa

PhD Student

Lorenzo Rella

PhD Student

Annabel Ebbing

PhD Student

Christa van der Veen

PhD Student

Erik Schild

PhD Student

Demi Wernaart


Laura Schwarz


Eva Gossink


Lina Soto