During asymmetric cell division, alignment of the mitotic spindle with the cell polarity axis ensures that the cleavage furrow separates fate determinants into distinct daughter cells. The protein Inscuteable (Insc) is thought to link cell polarity and spindle positioning in diverse systems by binding the polarity protein Bazooka (Baz; aka Par-3) and the spindle orienting protein Partner of Inscuteable (Pins; mPins or LGN in mammals). Here we investigate the mechanism of spindle orientation by the Insc-Pins complex. Previously, we defined two Pins spindle orientation pathways: a complex with Mushroom body defect (Mud; NuMA in mammals) is required for full activity, whereas binding to Discs large (Dlg) is sufficient for partial activity. In the current study, we have examined the role of Inscuteable in mediating downstream Pins-mediated spindle orientation pathways. We find that the Insc-Pins complex requires Gαi for partial activity and that the complex specifically recruits Dlg but not Mud. In vitro competition experiments revealed that Insc and Mud compete for binding to the Pins TPR motifs, while Dlg can form a ternary complex with Insc-Pins. Our results suggest that Insc does not passively couple polarity and spindle orientation but preferentially inhibits the Mud pathway, while allowing the Dlg pathway to remain active. Insc-regulated complex assembly may ensure that the spindle is attached to the cortex (via Dlg) before activation of spindle pulling forces by Dynein/Dynactin (via Mud).
Asymmetric division of neural progenitors is a key mechanism by which neuronal diversity in the Drosophila central nervous system is generated. The distinct fates of the daughter cells derived from these divisions are achieved through preferential segregation of the cell fate determinants Prospero and Numb to one of the two daughters. This is achieved by coordinating apical and basal mitotic spindle orientation with the basal cortical localization of the cell fate determinants during mitosis. A complex of apically localized proteins, including Inscuteable (Insc), Partner of Inscuteable (Pins), Bazooka (Baz), DmPar-6, DaPKC, and Gαi, is required to mediate and coordinate basal protein localization with mitotic spindle orientation. Pins, a molecule which directly interacts with Insc, is a key component required for the integrity of this complex; in the absence of Pins, other components become mislocalized or destabilized, and basal protein localization and mitotic spindle orientation are defective. Here we define the functional domains of Pins. We show that the C-terminal region containing the Gαi binding GoLoco motifs is necessary and sufficient for targeting to the neuroblast cortex, which appears to be a prerequisite for apical localization of Pins. The N-terminal tetratricopeptide repeat-containing region of Pins is required for two processes; TPR repeats 1 to 3 plus the C-terminal region are required for apical localization but are insufficient to recruit Insc to the apical cortex, whereas TPR repeats 1 to 7 plus C-terminal Pins can perform both functions. Hence, the abilities of Pins to cortically localize, to apically localize, and to restore Insc apical localization are all separable, and all three capabilities are necessary to mediate asymmetric division. Moreover, the need for N-terminal Pins can be obviated by fusing a minimal Insc functional domain with the C-terminal region of Pins; this chimeric molecule is apically localized and can fulfill the functions of both Insc and Pins.
The asymmetric division of Drosophila neuroblasts involves the basal localization of cell fate determinants and the generation of an asymmetric, apicobasally oriented mitotic spindle that leads to the formation of two daughter cells of unequal size. These features are thought to be controlled by an apically localized protein complex comprising of two signaling pathways: Bazooka/Drosophila atypical PKC/Inscuteable/DmPar6 and Partner of inscuteable (Pins)/Gαi; in addition, Gβ13F is also required. However, the role of Gαi and the hierarchical relationship between the G protein subunits and apical components are not well defined. Here we describe the isolation of Gαi mutants and show that Gαi and Gβ13F play distinct roles. Gαi is required for Pins to localize to the cortex, and the effects of loss of Gαi or pins are highly similar, supporting the idea that Pins/Gαi act together to mediate various aspects of neuroblast asymmetric division. In contrast, Gβ13F appears to regulate the asymmetric localization/stability of all apical components, and Gβ13F loss of function exhibits phenotypes resembling those seen when both apical pathways have been compromised, suggesting that it acts upstream of the apical pathways. Importantly, our results have also revealed a novel aspect of apical complex function, that is, the two apical pathways act redundantly to suppress the formation of basal astral microtubules in neuroblasts.
neuroblast; asymmetric division; astral microtubules; heterotrimeric G proteins; Drosophila
The scaffolding protein Canoe regulates spindle orientation by binding to RanGTP and recruiting RanGTP and Mud to the cell cortex.
Regulated spindle orientation maintains epithelial tissue integrity and stem cell asymmetric cell division. In Drosophila melanogaster neural stem cells (neuroblasts), the scaffolding protein Canoe (Afadin/Af-6 in mammals) regulates spindle orientation, but its protein interaction partners and mechanism of action are unknown. In this paper, we use our recently developed induced cell polarity system to dissect the molecular mechanism of Canoe-mediated spindle orientation. We show that a previously uncharacterized portion of Canoe directly binds the Partner of Inscuteable (Pins) tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) domain. The Canoe–PinsTPR interaction recruits Canoe to the cell cortex and is required for activation of the PinsTPR-Mud (nuclear mitotic apparatus in mammals) spindle orientation pathway. We show that the Canoe Ras-association (RA) domains directly bind RanGTP and that both the CanoeRA domains and RanGTP are required to recruit Mud to the cortex and activate the Pins/Mud/dynein spindle orientation pathway.
The planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway organizes the cytoskeleton and polarizes cells within embryonic tissue. We investigate the relationship between PCP signaling and cell fate determination during asymmetric division of neural progenitors (NPs) in mouse embryos. The cortex of Lp/Lp (Loop-tail) mice deficient in the essential PCP mediator Vangl2, homologue of Drosophila melanogaster Strabismus (Stbm), revealed precocious differentiation of neural progenitors into early-born neurons at the expense of late-born neurons and glia. Although Lp/Lp NPs were easily maintained in vitro, they showed premature differentiation and loss of asymmetric distribution of Leu-Gly-Asn–enriched protein (LGN)/partner of inscuteable (Pins), a regulator of mitotic spindle orientation. Furthermore, we observed a decreased frequency in asymmetric distribution of the LGN target nuclear mitotic apparatus protein (NuMa) in Lp/Lp cortical progenitors in vivo. This was accompanied by an increase in the number of vertical cleavage planes typically associated with equal daughter cell identities. These findings suggest that Stbm/Vangl2 functions to maintain cortical progenitors and regulates mitotic spindle orientation during asymmetric divisions in the vertebrate brain.
Asymmetric cell division is intensely studied because it can generate cellular diversity as well as maintain stem cell populations. Asymmetric cell division requires mitotic spindle alignment with intrinsic or extrinsic polarity cues, but mechanistic detail of this process is lacking. Here we develop a method to construct cortical polarity in a normally unpolarized cell line, and use this method to characterize Partner of Inscuteable (Pins; LGN/AGS3 in mammals)-dependent spindle orientation. We identify a previously unrecognized evolutionarily-conserved Pins domain (PinsLINKER) that requires Aurora-A phosphorylation to recruit Discs large (Dlg; PSD-95/hDlg in mammals) and promote partial spindle orientation. The well-characterized PinsTPR domain has no function alone, but placing the PinsTPR in cis to the PinsLINKER gives dynein-dependent precise spindle orientation. This "induced cortical polarity" assay is suitable for rapid identification of the proteins, domains, and amino acids regulating spindle orientation or cell polarity.
The precise balance of spindle orientations required for proper epidermal morphogenesis is regulated by mInscuteable expression and NuMA localization.
Progenitor cells must balance self-amplification and production of differentiated progeny during development and homeostasis. In the epidermis, progenitors divide symmetrically to increase surface area and asymmetrically to promote stratification. In this study, we show that individual epidermal cells can undergo both types of division, and therefore, the balance is provided by the sum of individual cells’ choices. In addition, we define two control points for determining a cell’s mode of division. First is the expression of the mouse Inscuteable gene, which is sufficient to drive asymmetric cell division (ACD). However, there is robust control of division orientation as excessive ACDs are prevented by a change in the localization of NuMA, an effector of spindle orientation. Finally, we show that p63, a transcriptional regulator of stratification, does not control either of these processes. These data have uncovered two important regulatory points controlling ACD in the epidermis and allow a framework for analysis of how external cues control this important choice.
Expression of fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF-8) is commonly increased in prostate cancer. Experimental studies have provided evidence that it plays a role in prostate tumorigenesis and tumor progression. To study how increased FGF-8 affects the prostate, we generated and analyzed transgenic (TG) mice expressing FGF-8b under the probasin promoter that targets expression to prostate epithelium. Prostates of the TG mice showed an increased size and changes in stromal and epithelialmorphology progressing fromatypia and prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mouse PIN, mPIN) lesions to tumors with highly variable phenotype bearing features of adenocarcinoma, carcinosarcoma, and sarcoma. The development of mPIN lesions was preceded by formation of activated stroma containing increased proportion of fibroblastic cells, rich vasculature, and inflammation. The association between advancing stromal and epithelial alterations was statistically significant. Microarray analysis and validation with quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that expression of osteopontin and connective tissue growth factor was markedly upregulated in TG mouse prostates compared with wild type prostates. Androgen receptor staining was decreased in transformed epithelium and in hypercellular stroma but strongly increased in the sarcoma-like lesions. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that disruption of FGF signaling pathways by increased epithelial production of FGF-8b leads to strongly activated and atypical stroma, which precedes development of mPIN lesions and prostate cancer with mixed features of adenocarcinoma and sarcoma in the prostates of TG mice. The results suggest that increased FGF-8 in human prostate may also contribute to prostate tumorigenesis by stromal activation.
Our previous studies have found that activation of Wnt/β-Catenin signaling resulted in mouse prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mPIN). In the large probasin promoter directed SV40-Large T-antigen (LPB-Tag) expressing mouse prostate, mPIN forms with rare areas of adenocarcinoma. Combining expression of both Wnt-signaling and Tag expression in the mouse prostate, we have studied the role of Wnt/β-Catenin signaling in the progression from mPIN to adenocarcinoma. Our results show that the prostates of mice expressing Tag alone or nuclear β-Catenin alone developed mPIN while the activation of both Tag and the Wnt/β-Catenin pathway resulted in invasive prostate adenocarcinoma. Also, Foxa2, a forkhead transcription factor, was induced by active Wnt/β-Catenin signaling; and the expression of Foxa2 was associated with the invasive phenotype in the primary prostate cancer. In the LPB-Tag/dominant active (D.A.) β-Catenin prostates, MMP7, a Wnt/β-Catenin target gene, was up-regulated. Furthermore, we also assessed AR and AR signaling pathway in these LPB-Tag/D.A. β-Catenin mice. Although β-Catenin is a well known AR co-activator in vitro, our study provides strong in vivo evidences indicating that both AR protein and the AR pathway were down-regulated in the prostate of LPB-Tag/D.A. β-Catenin mice. Histological analysis shows that prostate sections derived from the LPB-Tag/D.A. β-Catenin mice display neuroendocrine differentiation (NED) but NE cancer does not develop. Together, our findings indicate that Wnt/β-Catenin signaling plays an important role in the progression of mPIN to prostate adenocarcinoma.
Prostate; Wnt/β-Catenin; AR; Foxa2; T-antigen
In Drosophila, dopaminergic (DA) neurons can be found from mid embryonic stages of development till adulthood. Despite their functional involvement in learning and memory, not much is known about the developmental as well as molecular mechanisms involved in the events of DA neuronal specification, differentiation and maturation. In this report we demonstrate that most larval DA neurons are generated during embryonic development. Furthermore, we show that loss of function (l-o-f) mutations of genes of the apical complex proteins in the asymmetric cell division (ACD) machinery, such as inscuteable and bazooka result in supernumerary DA neurons, whereas l-o-f mutations of genes of the basal complex proteins such as numb result in loss or reduction of DA neurons. In addition, when Notch signaling is reduced or abolished, additional DA neurons are formed and conversely, when Notch signaling is activated, less DA neurons are generated. Our data demonstrate that both ACD and Notch signaling are crucial mechanisms for DA neuronal specification. We propose a model in which ACD results in differential Notch activation in direct siblings and in this context Notch acts as a repressor for DA neuronal specification in the sibling that receives active Notch signaling. Our study provides the first link of ACD and Notch signaling in the specification of a neurotransmitter phenotype in Drosophila. Given the high degree of conservation between Drosophila and vertebrate systems, this study could be of significance to mechanisms of DA neuronal differentiation not limited to flies.
The establishment and maintenance of polarity is of fundamental importance for the function of epithelial and neuronal cells. In Drosophila, the multi-PDZ domain protein Bazooka (Baz) is required for establishment of apico-basal polarity in epithelia and in neuroblasts, the stem cells of the central nervous system. In the latter, Baz anchors Inscuteable in the apical cytocortex, which is essential for asymmetric localization of cell fate determinants and for proper orientation of the mitotic spindle. Here we show that Baz directly binds to the Drosophila atypical isoform of protein kinase C and that both proteins are mutually dependent on each other for correct apical localization. Loss-of-function mutants of the Drosophila atypical isoform of PKC show loss of apico-basal polarity, multilayering of epithelia, mislocalization of Inscuteable and abnormal spindle orientation in neuroblasts. Together, these data provide strong evidence for the existence of an evolutionary conserved mechanism that controls apico-basal polarity in epithelia and neuronal stem cells. This study is the first functional analysis of an atypical protein kinase C isoform using a loss-of-function allele in a genetically tractable organism.
cell polarity; atypical PKC; Bazooka; tight junction; asymmetric cell division
Asymmetric cell division requires the establishment of cortical cell polarity and the orientation of the mitotic spindle along the axis of cell polarity. Evidence from invertebrates demonstrates that the Par3/Par6/aPKC and NuMA/LGN/Gαi complexes, which are thought to be physically linked by the adapter protein mInscuteable (mInsc), play indispensable roles in this process. However, the molecular basis for the binding of LGN to NuMA and mInsc is poorly understood. The high resolution structures of the LGN/NuMA and LGN/mInsc complexes presented here provide mechanistic insights into the distinct and highly specific interactions of the LGN TPR repeats with mInsc and NuMA. Structural comparisons, together with biochemical and cell biology studies, demonstrate that the interactions of NuMA and mInsc with LGN are mutually exclusive, with mInsc binding preferentially. Our results suggest that the Par3/mInsc/LGN and NuMA/LGN/Gαi complexes play sequential and partially overlapping roles in asymmetric cell division.
The position of the mitotic spindle plays a key role in spatial control of cell division. It is generally believed that when a spindle is positioned asymmetrically in a dividing cell, the resulting daughter cells are usually unequal in size due to eccentric cleavage of the mother cell. Molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of unequal sized daughter cells have been extensively studied in Drosophila neuroblast and C elegans zygote where the Gα subunit of the heterotrimeric G proteins and its binding partner—Pins in Drosophila and GPR-1/2 in C. elegans—are shown to be critical in governing spindle positioning and asymmetric cleavage of the mother cell. In mammalian system, although Gα and LGN (mammalian Pins homologue) are also required for spindle orientation, whether they can mediate asymmetric spindle positioning or asymmetric cleavage of the mother cell is not known. Here, by artificially targeting Gαi to the apical cortex in 3-D cultured MDCK cells, we established a system where asymmetric spindle positioning can be consistently induced. Interestingly, this asymmetrically positioned spindle does not lead to asymmetric cleavage; instead it results in equal sized daughter cells. Live cell time-lapse analysis revealed that anaphase spindle elongation compensated the original asymmetric spindle positioning. Our findings demonstrate that asymmetric spindle positioning does not necessarily lead to unequal sized daughter cells in mammalian system. We discuss potential mechanisms in generating unequal sized daughter cells.
Gα; LGN; cell division; asymmetric spindle positioning; cleavage furrow; cytokinesis
Cell polarity is essential for generating cell diversity and for the proper function of most differentiated cell types. In many organisms, cell polarity is regulated by the atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), Bazooka (Baz/Par3), and Par6 proteins. Here, we show that Drosophila aPKC zygotic null mutants survive to mid-larval stages, where they exhibit defects in neuroblast and epithelial cell polarity. Mutant neuroblasts lack apical localization of Par6 and Lgl, and fail to exclude Miranda from the apical cortex; yet, they show normal apical crescents of Baz/Par3, Pins, Inscuteable, and Discs large and normal spindle orientation. Mutant imaginal disc epithelia have defects in apical/basal cell polarity and tissue morphology. In addition, we show that aPKC mutants show reduced cell proliferation in both neuroblasts and epithelia, the opposite of the lethal giant larvae (lgl) tumor suppressor phenotype, and that reduced aPKC levels strongly suppress most lgl cell polarity and overproliferation phenotypes.
Lgl; asymmetric cell division; Miranda; apical/basal polarity; Par complex
Drosophila melanogaster neuroblasts (NBs) undergo asymmetric divisions during which cell-fate determinants localize asymmetrically, mitotic spindles orient along the apical–basal axis, and unequal-sized daughter cells appear. We identified here the first Drosophila mutant in the Gγ1 subunit of heterotrimeric G protein, which produces Gγ1 lacking its membrane anchor site and exhibits phenotypes identical to those of Gβ13F, including abnormal spindle asymmetry and spindle orientation in NB divisions. This mutant fails to bind Gβ13F to the membrane, indicating an essential role of cortical Gγ1–Gβ13F signaling in asymmetric divisions. In Gγ1 and Gβ13F mutant NBs, Pins–Gαi, which normally localize in the apical cortex, no longer distribute asymmetrically. However, the other apical components, Bazooka–atypical PKC–Par6–Inscuteable, still remain polarized and responsible for asymmetric Miranda localization, suggesting their dominant role in localizing cell-fate determinants. Further analysis of Gβγ and other mutants indicates a predominant role of Partner of Inscuteable–Gαi in spindle orientation. We thus suggest that the two apical signaling pathways have overlapping but different roles in asymmetric NB division.
epithelium; cell polarity; heterotrimeric G protein; spindle orientation; Drosophila melanogaster
The asymmetric segregation of determinants during cell division is a fundamental mechanism for generating cell fate diversity during development. In Drosophila, neural precursors (neuroblasts) divide in a stem cell-like manner generating a larger apical neuroblast and a smaller basal ganglion mother cell. The cell fate determinant Prospero and its adapter protein Miranda are asymmetrically localized to the basal cortex of the dividing neuroblast and segregated into the GMC upon cytokinesis. Previous screens to identify components of the asymmetric division machinery have concentrated on embryonic phenotypes. However, such screens are reaching saturation and are limited in that the maternal contribution of many genes can mask the effects of zygotic loss of function, and other approaches will be necessary to identify further genes involved in neuroblast asymmetric division.
We have performed a genetic screen in the third instar larval brain using the basal localization of Miranda as a marker for neuroblast asymmetry. In addition to the examination of pupal lethal mutations, we have employed the MARCM (Mosaic Analysis with a Repressible Cell Marker) system to generate postembryonic clones of mutations with an early lethal phase. We have screened a total of 2,300 mutagenized chromosomes and isolated alleles affecting cell fate, the localization of basal determinants or the orientation of the mitotic spindle. We have also identified a number of complementation groups exhibiting defects in cell cycle progression and cytokinesis, including both novel genes and new alleles of known components of these processes.
We have identified four mutations which affect the process of neuroblast asymmetric division. One of these, mapping to the imaginal discs arrested locus, suggests a novel role for the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) in the targeting of determinants to the basal cortex. The identification and analysis of the remaining mutations will further advance our understanding of the process of asymmetric cell division. We have also isolated a number of mutations affecting cell division which will complement the functional genomics approaches to this process being employed by other laboratories. Taken together, these results demonstrate the value of mosaic screens in the identification of genes involved in neuroblast division.
The interaction between astral microtubules and the cell cortex is accompanied by constant cortical release and transport of LGN/dynein complex, which is modulated by cortical actin filaments. Regulated cortical release and transport of LGN/dynein complex along astral microtubules may contribute to spindle positioning in mammalian cells.
Spindle positioning is believed to be governed by the interaction between astral microtubules and the cell cortex and involve cortically anchored motor protein dynein. How dynein is recruited to and regulated at the cell cortex to generate forces on astral microtubules is not clear. Here we show that mammalian homologue of Drosophila Pins (Partner of Inscuteable) (LGN), a Gαi-binding protein that is critical for spindle positioning in different systems, associates with cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain (DYNC1H1) in a Gαi-regulated manner. LGN is required for the mitotic cortical localization of DYNC1H1, which, in turn, also modulates the cortical accumulation of LGN. Using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis, we show that cortical LGN is dynamic and the turnover of LGN relies, at least partially, on astral microtubules and DYNC1H1. We provide evidence for dynein- and astral microtubule–mediated transport of Gαi/LGN/nuclear mitotic apparatus (NuMA) complex from cell cortex to spindle poles and show that actin filaments counteract such transport by maintaining Gαi/LGN/NuMA and dynein at the cell cortex. Our results indicate that astral microtubules are required for establishing bipolar, symmetrical cortical LGN distribution during metaphase. We propose that regulated cortical release and transport of LGN complex along astral microtubules may contribute to spindle positioning in mammalian cells.
Previous studies have shown that the Ron receptor is overexpressed in prostate cancer and Ron expression increases with disease severity in humans and the mouse TRAMP model. Here, the causal role of Ron overexpression in the murine prostate was examined in the development and progression of prostate cancer. Transgenic mouse strains were generated which selectively overexpressed Ron in the prostate epithelium and prostate histopathology was evaluated and compared to wild type controls. Ron overexpression led to the development of prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (mPIN) with local invasion and was associated with increases in prostate cell proliferation and decreases in cell death.
Ron receptor; prostate cancer; mouse prostate intraepithelial neoplasia; receptor tyrosine kinase; Met receptor
Mammalian LGN/AGS3 proteins and their Drosophila Pins orthologue
are cytoplasmic regulators of G-protein signaling. In Drosophila,
Pins localizes to the lateral cortex of polarized epithelial cells and to the
apical cortex of neuroblasts where it plays important roles in their
asymmetric division. Using overexpression studies in different cell line
systems, we demonstrate here that, like Drosophila Pins, LGN can
exhibit enriched localization at the cell cortex, depending on the cell cycle
and the culture system used. We find that in WISH, PC12, and NRK but not COS
cells, LGN is largely directed to the cell cortex during mitosis.
Overexpression of truncated protein domains further identified the
Gα-binding C-terminal portion of LGN as a sufficient domain for cortical
localization in cell culture. In mitotic COS cells that normally do not
exhibit cortical LGN localization, LGN is redirected to the cell cortex upon
overexpression of Gα subunits of heterotrimeric G-proteins. The results
also show that the cortical localization of LGN is dependent on microfilaments
and that interfering with LGN function in cultured cell lines causes early
disruption to cell cycle progression.
Neurons in the mammalian neocortex arise from asymmetric divisions of progenitors residing in the ventricular zone. While in most progenitor divisions, the mitotic spindle is parallel to the ventricular surface, some progenitors reorient the spindle and divide in oblique orientations. Here, we use conditional deletion and overexpression of mouse Inscuteable (mInsc) to analyze the relevance of spindle reorientation in cortical progenitors. Mutating mInsc almost abolishes oblique and vertical mitotic spindles, while mInsc overexpression has the opposite effect. Our data suggest that oblique divisions are essential for generating the correct numbers of neurons in all cortical layers. Using clonal analysis, we demonstrate that spindle orientation affects the rate of indirect neurogenesis, a process where progenitors give rise to basal progenitors, which in turn divide symmetrically into two differentiating neurons. Our results indicate that the orientation of progenitor cell divisions is important for correct lineage specification in the developing mammalian brain.
► mInsc is a functional homolog of Drosophila Inscuteable ► mInsc regulates spindle orientation during mouse neurogenesis ► Spindle orientation regulates the balance between direct and indirect neurogenesis
Neural stem cells in Drosophila are currently one of the best model systems for understanding stem cell biology during normal development and during abnormal development of stem cell-derived brain tumors. In Drosophila brain development, the proliferative activity of neural stem cells called neuroblasts gives rise to both the optic lobe and the central brain ganglia, and asymmetric cell divisions are key features of this proliferation. The molecular mechanisms that underlie the asymmetric cell divisions by which these neuroblasts self-renew and generate lineages of differentiating progeny have been studied extensively and involve two major protein complexes, the apical complex which maintains polarity and controls spindle orientation and the basal complex which is comprised of cell fate determinants and their adaptors that are segregated into the differentiating daughter cells during mitosis. Recent molecular genetic work has established Drosophila neuroblasts as a model for neural stem cell-derived tumors in which perturbation of key molecular mechanisms that control neuroblast proliferation and the asymmetric segregation of cell fate determinants lead to brain tumor formation. Identification of novel candidate genes that control neuroblast self-renewal and differentiation as well as functional analysis of these genes in normal and tumorigenic conditions in a tissue-specific manner is now possible through genome-wide transgenic RNAi screens. These cellular and molecular findings in Drosophila are likely to provide valuable genetic links for analyzing mammalian neural stem cells and tumor biology.
During asymmetric stem cell divisions, the mitotic spindle must be correctly oriented and positioned with respect to the axis of cell polarity to ensure that cell fate determinants are appropriately segregated into only one daughter cell. By contrast, epithelial cells divide symmetrically and orient their mitotic spindles perpendicular to the main apical–basal polarity axis, so that both daughter cells remain within the epithelium. Work in the past 20 years has defined a core ternary complex consisting of Pins, Mud and Gαi that participates in spindle orientation in both asymmetric and symmetric divisions. As additional factors that interact with this complex continue to be identified, a theme has emerged: there is substantial overlap between the mechanisms that orient the spindle and those that establish and maintain apical–basal polarity in epithelial cells. In this review, we examine several factors implicated in both processes, namely Canoe, Bazooka, aPKC and Discs large, and consider the implications of this work on how the spindle is oriented during epithelial cell divisions.
epithelial polarity; mitosis; spindle orientation
Asymmetric cell divisions are a fundamental feature of neural development, and misregulation can lead to brain abnormalities or tumor formation. During an asymmetric cell division, molecular determinants are segregated preferentially into one daughter cell to specify its fate. An important goal is to identify the asymmetric determinants in neural progenitor cells, which could be tumor suppressors or inducers of specific neural fates. Here we show that the double-stranded RNA-binding protein Stau2 is distributed asymmetrically during progenitor divisions in the developing mouse cortex, preferentially segregating into the Tbr2+ neuroblast daughter, taking with it a sub-set of RNAs. Knockdown of Stau2 stimulates differentiation and over-expression produces periventricular neuronal masses, demonstrating its functional importance for normal cortical development. We immunoprecipitated Stau2 to examine its cargo mRNAs, and found enrichment for known asymmetric and basal cell determinants, such as Trim32, and identified novel candidates, including a subset involved in primary cilium function.
Cell proliferation, specification and terminal differentiation must be precisely coordinated during brain development to ensure the correct production of different neuronal populations. Most Drosophila neuroblasts (NBs) divide asymmetrically to generate a new NB and an intermediate progenitor called ganglion mother cell (GMC) which divides only once to generate two postmitotic cells called ganglion cells (GCs) that subsequently differentiate into neurons. During the asymmetric division of NBs, the homeodomain transcription factor PROSPERO is segregated into the GMC where it plays a key role as cell fate determinant. Previous work on embryonic neurogenesis has shown that PROSPERO is not expressed in postmitotic neuronal progeny. Thus, PROSPERO is thought to function in the GMC by repressing genes required for cell-cycle progression and activating genes involved in terminal differentiation. Here we focus on postembryonic neurogenesis and show that the expression of PROSPERO is transiently upregulated in the newly born neuronal progeny generated by most of the larval NBs of the OL and CB. Moreover, we provide evidence that this expression of PROSPERO in GCs inhibits their cell cycle progression by activating the expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CKI) DACAPO. These findings imply that PROSPERO, in addition to its known role as cell fate determinant in GMCs, provides a transient signal to ensure a precise timing for cell cycle exit of prospective neurons, and hence may link the mechanisms that regulate neurogenesis and those that control cell cycle progression in postembryonic brain development.
Land plants are characterised by haplo-diploid life cycles, and developing ovules are the organs in which the haploid and diploid generations coexist. Recently it has been shown that hormones such as auxin and cytokinins play important roles in ovule development and patterning. The establishment and regulation of auxin levels in cells is predominantly determined by the activity of the auxin efflux carrier proteins PIN-FORMED (PIN). To study the roles of PIN1 and PIN3 during ovule development we have used mutant alleles of both genes and also perturbed PIN1 and PIN3 expression using micro-RNAs controlled by the ovule specific DEFH9 (DEFIFICENS Homologue 9) promoter. PIN1 down-regulation and pin1-5 mutation severely affect female gametophyte development since embryo sacs arrest at the mono- and/or bi-nuclear stages (FG1 and FG3 stage). PIN3 function is not required for ovule development in wild-type or PIN1-silenced plants. We show that sporophytically expressed PIN1 is required for megagametogenesis, suggesting that sporophytic auxin flux might control the early stages of female gametophyte development, although auxin response is not visible in developing embryo sacs.