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Tang, P. WNT4 Gene. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 25 April 2024).
Tang P. WNT4 Gene. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 25, 2024.
Tang, Peter. "WNT4 Gene" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 25, 2024).
Tang, P. (2020, December 24). WNT4 Gene. In Encyclopedia.
Tang, Peter. "WNT4 Gene." Encyclopedia. Web. 24 December, 2020.
WNT4 Gene

Wnt family member 4: The WNT4 gene belongs to a family of WNT genes that play critical roles in development before birth. WNT genes provide instructions for making proteins that participate in chemical signaling pathways in the body. These pathways control the activity of certain genes and regulate the interactions between cells during embryonic development.


1. Normal Function

The WNT4 gene provides instructions for producing a protein that is important for the formation of the female reproductive system, the kidneys, and several hormone-producing glands. During the development of the female reproductive system, the WNT4 protein regulates the formation of the Müllerian ducts, which are structures in the embryo that develop into the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and the upper part of the vagina. This protein is also involved in development of the ovaries, from before birth through adulthood, and is important for development and maintenance of egg cells (oocytes) in the ovaries. In addition, the WNT4 protein regulates the production of male sex hormones (androgens).

2. Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

2.1. Müllerian aplasia and hyperandrogenism

At least three mutations in the WNT4 gene have been found to cause Müllerian aplasia and hyperandrogenism, a condition that affects the reproductive system in females. Girls and women with this condition typically have an underdeveloped or absent uterus and do not menstruate. They may also have abnormally high levels of androgens, which can cause acne and excessive facial hair.

WNT4 gene mutations involved in Müllerian aplasia and hyperandrogenism change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the WNT4 protein. Researchers suspect that the altered protein cannot be released from cells as it normally would be; the trapped protein is unable to perform its usual functions. Loss of regulation by WNT4 likely disrupts development of the female reproductive system and induces abnormal production of androgens, leading to the features of Müllerian aplasia and hyperandrogenism.

2.2. Other disorders

A mutation in the WNT4 gene has been found to cause a severe condition called SERKAL (SEx Reversal and abnormal development of Kidneys, Adrenals, and Lungs) syndrome. In this condition, male sex development may occur despite the chromosome pattern typical of females. SERKAL syndrome has been reported in only one family and likely is not compatible with life. The mutation that causes SERKAL syndrome replaces the protein building block (amino acid) alanine with the amino acid valine at position 114 in the WNT4 protein (written as Ala114Val or A114V). This mutation is present in both copies of the WNT4 gene in each cell and likely eliminates the function of the WNT4 protein. The absence of WNT4 protein results in the wide variety of developmental abnormalities seen in SERKAL syndrome.

A duplication of genetic material in a specific region of chromosome 1 can result in an extra copy of the WNT4 gene. Having an additional copy of this gene leads to the production of extra WNT4 protein. People with this duplication may develop some female features despite having the chromosome pattern typical of males. These individuals can have an underdeveloped uterus and nonfunctional testes.

3. Other Names for This Gene

  • wingless-type MMTV integration site family member 4

  • wingless-type MMTV integration site family, member 4

  • WNT-4

  • WNT-4 protein



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  3. Biason-Lauber A, Konrad D, Navratil F, Schoenle EJ. A WNT4 mutation associatedwith Müllerian-duct regression and virilization in a 46,XX woman. N Engl J Med.2004 Aug 19;351(8):792-8.
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  5. Biason-Lauber A. WNT4, RSPO1, and FOXL2 in sex development. Semin Reprod Med. 2012 Oct;30(5):387-95. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1324722.
  6. Clément-Ziza M, Khen N, Gonzales J, Crétolle-Vastel C, Picard JY, Tullio-PeletA, Besmond C, Munnich A, Lyonnet S, Nihoul-Fékété C. Exclusion of WNT4 as a majorgene in Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser anomaly. Am J Med Genet A. 2005 Aug15;137(1):98-9.
  7. Jordan BK, Mohammed M, Ching ST, Délot E, Chen XN, Dewing P, Swain A, Rao PN, Elejalde BR, Vilain E. Up-regulation of WNT-4 signaling and dosage-sensitive sex reversal in humans. Am J Hum Genet. 2001 May;68(5):1102-9.
  8. Jääskeläinen M, Prunskaite-Hyyryläinen R, Naillat F, Parviainen H, Anttonen M,Heikinheimo M, Liakka A, Ola R, Vainio S, Vaskivuo TE, Tapanainen JS. WNT4 isexpressed in human fetal and adult ovaries and its signaling contributes toovarian cell survival. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Apr 12;317(1-2):106-11. doi:10.1016/j.mce.2009.11.013.
  9. Mandel H, Shemer R, Borochowitz ZU, Okopnik M, Knopf C, Indelman M, Drugan A, Tiosano D, Gershoni-Baruch R, Choder M, Sprecher E. SERKAL syndrome: anautosomal-recessive disorder caused by a loss-of-function mutation in WNT4. Am J Hum Genet. 2008 Jan;82(1):39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2007.08.005.
  10. Philibert P, Biason-Lauber A, Rouzier R, Pienkowski C, Paris F, Konrad D,Schoenle E, Sultan C. Identification and functional analysis of a new WNT4 genemutation among 28 adolescent girls with primary amenorrhea and müllerian ductabnormalities: a French collaborative study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008Mar;93(3):895-900. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-2023.
  11. Prunskaite-Hyyryläinen R, Shan J, Railo A, Heinonen KM, Miinalainen I, Yan W, Shen B, Perreault C, Vainio SJ. Wnt4, a pleiotropic signal for controlling cellpolarity, basement membrane integrity, and antimüllerian hormone expressionduring oocyte maturation in the female follicle. FASEB J. 2014 Apr;28(4):1568-81.doi: 10.1096/fj.13-233247.
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