Correct organ size must involve a balance between promotion and inhibition of cell proliferation. A mathematical model has been proposed in which an organ is assumed to produce its own growth activator as well as a growth inhibitor , but there is as yet no molecular evidence to support this model . The mechanosensory organs of the fish lateral line system (neuromasts) are composed of a core of sensory hair cells surrounded by nonsensory support cells. Sensory cells are constantly replaced and are regenerated from surrounding nonsensory cells , while each organ retains the same size throughout life. Moreover, neuromasts also bud off new neuromasts, which stop growing when they reach the same size [4, 5]. Here, we show that the size of neuromasts is controlled by a balance between growth-promoting Wnt signaling activity in proliferation- competent cells and Wnt-inhibiting Dkk activity produced by differentiated sensory cells. This negative feedback loop from Dkk (secreted by differentiated cells) on Wnt-dependent cell proliferation (in surrounding cells) also acts during regeneration to achieve size constancy. This study establishes Wnt/Dkk as a novel mechanism to determine the final size of an organ.
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