Recent studies have challenged the widespread view that the pattern of embryogenesis found in Caenorhabditis elegans (clade 9) is characteristic of nematodes in general. To understand this still largely unexplored landscape of developmental events, we set out to examine more distantly related nematodes in detail for temporospatial differences in pattern formation and cell specification. Members of the genus Plectus (clade 6) seem to be suitable candidates to show variety, with certain idiosyncratic features during early development and the convenient availability of cultivatable species.
The study was conducted using 4-D lineage analysis, 3-D modeling of developing embryos and laser-induced ablation of individual blastomeres.
Detailed cell lineage studies of several Plectus species reveal that pattern formation and cell fate assignment differ markedly from C. elegans. Descendants of the first somatic founder cell S1 (AB) - but not the progeny of other founder cells - demonstrate extremely variable spatial arrangements illustrating that here distinct early cell-cell interactions between invariant partners, as found in C. elegans, cannot take place. Different from C. elegans, in Plectus alternative positional variations among early S1 blastomeres resulting in a ‘situs inversus’ pattern, nevertheless give rise to adults with normal left-right asymmetries. In addition, laser ablations of early blastomeres uncover inductions between variable cell partners.
Our results suggest that embryonic cell specification in Plectus is not correlated with cell lineage but with position. With this peculiarity, Plectus appears to occupy an intermediate position between basal nematodes displaying a variable early development and the C. elegans-like invariant pattern. We suggest that indeterminate pattern formation associated with late, position-dependent fate assignment represents a plesiomorphic character among nematodes predominant in certain basal clades but lost in derived clades. Thus, the behavior of S1 cells in Plectus can be considered an evolutionary relict in a transition phase between two different developmental strategies.
Nematode; embryogenesis; cell lineage; cell specification; evolution; developmental system drift; Plectus; C. elegans
Lineage based mechanisms are widely used to generate cell type diversity in both vertebrates and invertebrates. For the past few decades, the nematode C. elegans has served as a primary model system to study this process due to its fixed and well characterized cell lineage. Recent studies conducted at the level of single cells and individual cis-regulatory elements suggest a general model by which cellular diversity is generated in this organism. During its developmental history a cell passes through multiple transient regulatory states characterized by the expression of specific sets of transcription factors. The transition from one state to another is driven by a general binary decision mechanism acting at each successive division in a reiterative manner and ending up with the activation of the terminal differentiation program upon terminal division. A similar cell fate specification system seems to play a role in generating cellular diversity in the nervous system of more complex organisms such as Drosophila and vertebrates.
transcription factors; cell fate; lineage; asymmetric division; Wnt; C. elegans
Through an iterative process of computational modeling, prediction, and experimentation, a molecular synchronization mechanism is revealed by which the cell-cycle regulates Notch signaling to allow the formation of a stable cell fate pattern.
The termination of Notch signaling is tightly linked to cell-cycle progression.Degradation of intracellular Notch is blocked in G1-arrested vulval precursor cells (VPCs).The G1 cyclins CYD-1 and CYE-1 stabilize Notch, while the G2 cyclin CYB-3 promotes Notch degradation.Revealing a synchronization mechanism that coordinates Notch signaling with cell-cycle progression and thus allows the formation of a stable cell fate pattern.Bounded asynchrony achieved through cell-cycle control of signal transduction could be a global principle utilized during the development of multicellular organisms.
C. elegans vulval development is one of the best-characterized systems to study cell fate specification during organogenesis. The detailed knowledge of the signaling pathways determining vulval precursor cell (VPC) fates permitted us to create a computational model based on the antagonistic interactions between the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/RAS/MAPK and the NOTCH pathways that specify the primary and secondary fates, respectively. A key notion of our model is called bounded asynchrony, which predicts that a limited degree of asynchrony in the progression of the VPCs is necessary to break their equivalence. While searching for a molecular mechanism underlying bounded asynchrony, we discovered that the termination of NOTCH signaling is tightly linked to cell-cycle progression. When single VPCs were arrested in the G1 phase, intracellular NOTCH failed to be degraded, resulting in a mixed primary/secondary cell fate. Moreover, the G1 cyclins CYD-1 and CYE-1 stabilize NOTCH, while the G2 cyclin CYB-3 promotes NOTCH degradation. Our findings reveal a synchronization mechanism that coordinates NOTCH signaling with cell-cycle progression and thus permits the formation of a stable cell fate pattern.
Caenorhabditis elegans; cell cycle; modeling; NOTCH; signal transduction
Comparative genomic analysis of important signaling pathways in C. briggase and C. elegans reveals both conserved features and also differences. To build a framework to address the significance of these features we determined the C. briggsae embryonic cell lineage, using the tools StarryNite and AceTree. We traced both cell divisions and cell positions for all cells through all but the last round of cell division and for selected cells through the final round. We found the lineage to be remarkably similar to that of C. elegans. Not only did the founder cells give rise to similar numbers of progeny, the relative cell division timing and positions were largely maintained. These lineage similarities appear to give rise to similar cell fates as judged both by the positions of lineally-equivalent cells and by the patterns of cell deaths in both species. However, some reproducible differences were seen, e.g., the P4 cell cycle length is more than 40% longer in C. briggsae than that in C. elegans (p < 0.01). The extensive conservation of embryonic development between such divergent species suggests that substantial evolutionary distance between these two species has not altered these early developmental cellular events, although the developmental defects of transpecies hybrids suggest that the details of the underlying molecular pathways have diverged sufficiently so as to not be interchangeable.
C. briggsae; C. elegans; embryo; cell lineage; signaling pathway
Understanding the mechanisms that coordinate cell proliferation, cell cycle arrest, and cell differentiation is essential to address the problem of how “normal” versus pathological developmental processes take place. In the bristle lineage of the adult fly, we have tested the capacity of post-mitotic cells to re-enter the cell cycle in response to the overexpression of cyclin E. We show that only terminal cells in which the identity is independent of Notch pathway undergo extra divisions after CycE overexpression. Our analysis shows that the responsiveness of cells to forced proliferation depends on both Prospero, a fate determinant, and on the level of Notch pathway activity. Our results demonstrate that the terminal quiescent state and differentiation are regulated by two parallel mechanisms acting simultaneously on fate acquisition and cell cycle progression.
Despite substantial progress that has been made, we still know little about how single precursor cells undergo a limited number of cell divisions before arrest. Discovering the mechanisms by which terminal cells maintain cell division arrest is essential for understanding “normal” development, as well as the origin of pathological deregulations. Using the bristle cell lineage, a model system widely employed to analye cell identity acquisition, we observed that only two out of four terminal cells in this lineage are unable to re-enter the cell cycle and proliferate. Our study shows that in these cells, cell division arrest is maintained by the action of the transcription factor Prospero and the signalling pathway Notch. Since both of these factors also control cell identity in this lineage, this finding demonstrates that common elements acting simultaneously and in parallel regulate the terminal quiescent state and differentiation. This system provides a unique animal model in which to understand how the mechanisms involved in cell fate acquisition and those controlling cell division intermingle to produce cell lineages resulting in terminal cells in the right number and at the right place and time.
A fundamental question in developmental neuroscience is how a collection of progenitor cells proliferates and differentiates to create a brain of the appropriate size and cellular composition. To address this issue, we devised lineage-tracing assays in developing zebrafish embryos to reconstruct entire retinal lineage progressions in vivo and thereby provide a complete quantitative map of the generation of a vertebrate CNS tissue from individual progenitors. These lineage data are consistent with a simple model in which the retina is derived from a set of equipotent retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) that are subject to stochastic factors controlling lineage progression. Clone formation in mutant embryos reveals that the transcription factor Ath5 acts as a molecular link between fate choice and mode of cell division, giving insight into the elusive molecular mechanisms of histogenesis, the conserved temporal order by which neurons of different types exit the cell cycle.
► Method for full live lineage tracing of retinal cells in vivo ► Demonstration that retinal clone growth is representative of retinal growth ► A stochastic model accurately predicts clone growth from equipotent progenitors ► Links between mode of cell division and cell fate help explain histogenesis
A key question in developmental neuroscience is how a collection of progenitors proliferates and differentiates to create a brain of the consistent size and composition. He et al. use lineage tracing to reconstruct the full retinal lineages in vivo and propose a model for stochastic control of lineage progression.
Embryogenesis is the process by which the embryo is formed, develops, and establishes developmental hierarchies of tissues. The recent advance in microarray technology made it possible to investigate the tissue specific patterns of gene expression and their relationship with tissue lineages. This study is focused on how tissue specific functions, tissue lineage, and cell differentiation are correlated, which is essential to understand embryonic development and organism complexity.
We performed individual gene and gene set based analysis on multiple tissue expression data, in association with the classic topology of mammalian fate maps of embryogenesis. For each sub-group of tissues on the fate map, conservatively, differentially and correlatively expressed genes or gene sets were identified. Tissue distance was found to correlate with gene expression divergence. Tissues of the ectoderm or mesoderm origins from the same segments on the fate map shared more similar expression pattern than those from different origins. Conservatively expressed genes or gene sets define common functions in a tissue group and are related to tissue specific diseases, which is supported by results from Gene Ontology and KEGG pathway analysis. Gene expression divergence is larger in certain human tissues than in the mouse homologous tissues.
The results from tissue lineage and gene expression analysis indicate that common function features of neighbor tissue groups were defined by the conservatively expressed genes and were related to tissue specific diseases, and differentially expressed genes contribute to the functional divergence of tissues. The difference of gene expression divergence in human and mouse homologous tissues reflected the organism complexity, i.e. distinct neural development levels and different body sizes.
Stomata and pavement cells are produced by a series of asymmetric divisions and progressive fate transitions within a stem cell lineage. In Arabidopsis, this process is regulated so that new lineages can be inserted between previously differentiated cells while maintaining stomatal spacing. The small peptide EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR 1 may be a positional signal secreted by stomatal precursors to modulate behavior of nearby cells. Signal-receiving cells may use TOO MANY MOUTHS and ERECTA family receptors and a MAPK pathway to regulate initiation of new lineages, promote asymmetric division, and control the plane of spacing divisions. Cell fate transitions are controlled by bHLH, MYB and MADS-box transcription factors, and there is evidence of miRNA regulation. These results provide insight into positive and negative influences on stomatal cell transitions and suggest points of potential environmental regulation.
The coordination of cell proliferation and cell fate determination is critical during development but the mechanisms through which this is accomplished are unclear. We present evidence that the Snail-related transcription factor CES-1 of Caenorhabditis elegans coordinates these processes in a specific cell lineage. CES-1 can cause loss of cell polarity in the NSM neuroblast. By repressing the transcription of the BH3-only gene egl-1, CES-1 can also suppress apoptosis in the daughters of the NSM neuroblasts. We now demonstrate that CES-1 also affects cell cycle progression in this lineage. Specifically, we found that CES-1 can repress the transcription of the cdc-25.2 gene, which encodes a Cdc25-like phosphatase, thereby enhancing the block in NSM neuroblast division caused by the partial loss of cya-1, which encodes Cyclin A. Our results indicate that CDC-25.2 and CYA-1 control specific cell divisions and that the over-expression of the ces-1 gene leads to incorrect regulation of this functional ‘module’. Finally, we provide evidence that dnj-11 MIDA1 not only regulate CES-1 activity in the context of cell polarity and apoptosis but also in the context of cell cycle progression. In mammals, the over-expression of Snail-related genes has been implicated in tumorigenesis. Our findings support the notion that the oncogenic potential of Snail-related transcription factors lies in their capability to, simultaneously, affect cell cycle progression, cell polarity and apoptosis and, hence, the coordination of cell proliferation and cell fate determination.
Animal development is a complex process and requires the coordination in space and time of various processes. These processes include the controlled production of cells, also referred to as ‘cell proliferation’, and the adoption by cells of specific fates, also referred to as ‘cell fate determination’. The observation that uncontrolled cell proliferation and cell fate determination contribute to conditions such as cancer, demonstrates that a precise coordination of these processes is not only important for development but for the prevention of disease throughout life. Snail-related transcription factors have previously been shown to be involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and cell fate determination. For example, the Caenorhabditis elegans Snail-related protein CES-1 affects cell fate determination in a specific cell lineage, the NSM (neurosecretory motorneuron) lineage. We now present evidence that CES-1 also controls cell proliferation in this lineage. Within a short period of time, CES-1 therefore coordinates cell proliferation and cell fate determination in one and the same lineage. Based on this finding, we propose that CES-1 is an important coordinator that is involved in the precise control - in space (NSM lineage) and time (<150 min) - of processes that are critical for animal development.
In all metazoan organisms, the diversification of cell types involves determination of cell fates and subsequent execution of specific differentiation programmes. During Drosophila myogenesis, identity genes specify the fates of founder myoblasts, from which derive all individual larval muscles. Here, to understand how cell fate information residing within founders is translated during differentiation, we focus on three identity genes, eve, lb and slou and how they control the size of individual muscles by regulating the number of fusion events. They achieve this by setting expression levels of Mp20, Pax and mspo, three genes that regulate actin dynamics and cell adhesion and, as we show here, modulate the fusion process in a muscle-specific manner. Thus, these data provide the first example of how the identity information implemented by transcription factors is translated via target genes into cell-type specific programmes of differentiation.
Identity genes; fusion; muscle; Drosophila; Mp20; Paxillin; M-spondin
The invariant lineage of Caenorhabditis elegans has powerful potential for quantifying developmental variability in normal and stressed embryos. Previous studies of division timing by automated lineage tracing suggested that variability in cell cycle timing is low in younger embryos, but manual lineage tracing of specific lineages suggested that variability may increase for later divisions. We developed improved automated lineage tracing methods that allow routine lineage tracing through the last round of embryonic cell divisions and we applied these methods to trace the lineage of 18 wild-type embryos. Cell cycle lengths, division axes and cell positions are remarkably consistent among these embryos at all stages, with only slight increases in variability later in development. The resulting quantitative 4-dimensional model of embryogenesis provides a powerful reference dataset to identify defects in mutants or in embryos that have experienced environmental perturbations. We also traced the lineages of embryos imaged at higher temperatures to quantify the decay in developmental robustness under temperature stress. Developmental variability increases modestly at 25°C compared with 22°C and dramatically at 26°C, and we identify homeotic transformations in a subset of embryos grown at 26°C. The deep lineage tracing methods provide a powerful tool for analysis of normal development, gene expression and mutants and we provide a graphical user interface to allow other researchers to explore the average behavior of arbitrary cells in a reference embryo.
robustness; microscopy; cell lineage; image analysis; C. elegans; stress
Lineage specification in the preimplantation mouse embryo is a regulative process. Thus, it has been difficult to ascertain whether segregation of the inner-cell-mass (ICM) into precursors of the pluripotent epiblast (EPI) and the differentiating primitive endoderm (PE) is random or influenced by developmental history. Here, our results lead to a unifying model for cell fate specification in which the time of internalization and the relative contribution of ICM cells generated by two waves of asymmetric divisions influence cell fate. We show that cells generated in the second wave express higher levels of Fgfr2 than those generated in the first, leading to ICM cells with varying Fgfr2 expression. To test whether such heterogeneity is enough to bias cell fate, we upregulate Fgfr2 and show it directs cells towards PE. Our results suggest that the strength of this bias is influenced by the number of cells generated in the first wave and, mostly likely, by the level of Fgf signalling in the ICM. Differences in the developmental potential of eight-cell- and 16-cell-stage outside blastomeres placed in the inside of chimaeric embryos further support this conclusion. These results unite previous findings demonstrating the importance of developmental history and Fgf signalling in determining cell fate.
mouse embryo; cell lineage; heterogeneity; Fgf signalling; bias
During the process of muscle regeneration, activated stem cells termed satellite cells proliferate, and then differentiate to form new myofibers that restore the injured area. Yet not all satellite cells contribute to muscle repair. Some continue to proliferate, others die, and others become quiescent and are available for regeneration following subsequent injury. The mechanisms that regulate the adoption of different cell fates in a muscle cell precursor population remain unclear.
We have used live cell imaging and lineage tracing to study cell fate in the C2 myoblast line.
Analyzing the behavior of individual myoblasts revealed marked variability in both cell cycle duration and viability, but similarities between cells derived from the same parental lineage. As a consequence, lineage sizes and outcomes differed dramatically, and individual lineages made uneven contributions toward the terminally differentiated population. Thus, the cohort of myoblasts undergoing differentiation at the end of an experiment differed dramatically from the lineages present at the beginning. Treatment with IGF-I increased myoblast number by maintaining viability and by stimulating a fraction of cells to complete one additional cell cycle in differentiation medium, and as a consequence reduced the variability of the terminal population compared with controls.
Our results reveal that heterogeneity of responses to external cues is an intrinsic property of cultured myoblasts that may be explained in part by parental lineage, and demonstrate the power of live cell imaging for understanding how muscle differentiation is regulated.
Live cell imaging; Single cell analysis; Cell death; Insulin-like growth factors
Neural cell fate programs must generate an enormous number of neurons with distinct adult functions. The decision to choose one neuronal subtype from two alternatives--a binary fate decision--is one way to diversify neuronal subtypes during nervous system development. Recent progress has been made in describing the genetic programs that define late-stage neuronal identity. Here, we review mechanisms that control how such fate decisions generate two different post-mitotic, terminally differentiated neuronal subtypes. We survey examples from C. elegans and Drosophila that demonstrate different modes of binary neuronal fate specification that depend on cell division, lineage, stochastic gene expression, or extracellular signals. Comparison of these strategies reveals that, although organisms use diverse approaches to generate neural diversity, some common themes do exist.
From invertebrates to mammals, cell-cycle progression during an asymmetric cell division is accompanied by precisely timed redistribution of cell-fate determinants so that they segregate asymmetrically to enable the two daughter cells to choose different fates. Interestingly, studies on how cell fates are specified in such divisions reveal that the same fate determinants can be reiteratively used to specify a variety of cell types through multiple rounds of cell divisions or to exert seemingly contradictory effects on cell proliferation and differentiation. Here I summarize the molecular mechanisms governing asymmetric cell division and review recent findings pointing to a novel mechanism for coupling intracellular signaling and cell-cycle progression. This mechanism uses changes in the morphology, subcellular distribution and molecular composition of cellular organelles like the Golgi apparatus and centrosomes, which also accompany the progression of cell cycle, to activate but also temporally constrain the activity of fate determinants during asymmetric cell divisions.
In response to sudden environmental stress, B. subtilis cells can defer sporulation for multiple cell cycles using a pulsed positive feedback loop.
Environmental signals induce diverse cellular differentiation programs. In certain systems, cells defer differentiation for extended time periods after the signal appears, proliferating through multiple rounds of cell division before committing to a new fate. How can cells set a deferral time much longer than the cell cycle? Here we study Bacillus subtilis cells that respond to sudden nutrient limitation with multiple rounds of growth and division before differentiating into spores. A well-characterized genetic circuit controls the concentration and phosphorylation of the master regulator Spo0A, which rises to a critical concentration to initiate sporulation. However, it remains unclear how this circuit enables cells to defer sporulation for multiple cell cycles. Using quantitative time-lapse fluorescence microscopy of Spo0A dynamics in individual cells, we observed pulses of Spo0A phosphorylation at a characteristic cell cycle phase. Pulse amplitudes grew systematically and cell-autonomously over multiple cell cycles leading up to sporulation. This pulse growth required a key positive feedback loop involving the sporulation kinases, without which the deferral of sporulation became ultrasensitive to kinase expression. Thus, deferral is controlled by a pulsed positive feedback loop in which kinase expression is activated by pulses of Spo0A phosphorylation. This pulsed positive feedback architecture provides a more robust mechanism for setting deferral times than constitutive kinase expression. Finally, using mathematical modeling, we show how pulsing and time delays together enable “polyphasic” positive feedback, in which different parts of a feedback loop are active at different times. Polyphasic feedback can enable more accurate tuning of long deferral times. Together, these results suggest that Bacillus subtilis uses a pulsed positive feedback loop to implement a “timer” that operates over timescales much longer than a cell cycle.
How long should a cell wait to respond to an environmental change? While many pathways such as those affecting chemotaxis respond to environmental signals quickly, in other contexts a cell may want to defer its response until long after the signal's onset—sometimes waiting multiple cell cycles. How can cells create “timers” to regulate these long deferrals? We study this question in the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, which responds to stress by transforming into a dormant spore. We show that B. subtilis can defer sporulation for extended time periods by first undergoing multiple rounds of growth and proliferation, and only then sporulating. The timer for this deferral is a pulsed positive feedback loop, which ratchets up the concentration of the sporulation master-regulator Spo0A to a critical level over multiple cell cycles. Finally, using mathematical modeling, we illustrate how a novel dynamic feedback mechanism, “polyphasic positive feedback,” lets cells defer sporulation more robustly than with other circuit strategies. Developing techniques that can access pulsing and time-delay dynamics with higher time resolution will enable us to determine if this polyphasic strategy provides a general design principle for the regulation of multi-cell-cycle deferral times seen in other systems.
Spatio-temporal coordination of events during cell division is crucial for animal development. In recent years, emerging data have strengthened the notion that tight coupling of cell cycle progression and cell polarity in dividing cells is crucial for asymmetric cell division and ultimately for metazoan development. Although it is acknowledged that such coupling exists, the molecular mechanisms linking the cell cycle and cell polarity machineries are still under investigation. Key cell cycle regulators control cell polarity, and thus influence cell fate determination and/or differentiation, whereas some factors involved in cell polarity regulate cell cycle timing and proliferation potential. The scope of this review is to discuss the data linking cell polarity and cell cycle progression, and the importance of such coupling for asymmetric cell division. Because studies in model organisms such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster have started to reveal the molecular mechanisms of this coordination, we will concentrate on these two systems. We review examples of molecular mechanisms suggesting a coupling between cell polarity and cell cycle progression.
cell polarity; cell cycle; Drosophila melanogaster; Caenorhabditis elegans
The Caenorhabditis elegans β-TrCP orthologue LIN-23 of maternal origin regulates a progressive decline of CDC-25.1 abundance over several embryonic cell-cycles and specifies cell number of one tissue, the embryonic intestine.
Coordination between cell fate specification and cell cycle control in multicellular organisms is essential to regulate cell numbers in tissues and organs during development, and its failure may lead to oncogenesis. In mammalian cells, as part of a general cell cycle checkpoint mechanism, the F-box protein β-transducin repeat-containing protein (β-TrCP) and the Skp1/Cul1/F-box complex control the periodic cell cycle fluctuations in abundance of the CDC25A and B phosphatases. Here, we find that the Caenorhabditis elegans β-TrCP orthologue LIN-23 regulates a progressive decline of CDC-25.1 abundance over several embryonic cell cycles and specifies cell number of one tissue, the embryonic intestine. The negative regulation of CDC-25.1 abundance by LIN-23 may be developmentally controlled because CDC-25.1 accumulates over time within the developing germline, where LIN-23 is also present. Concurrent with the destabilization of CDC-25.1, LIN-23 displays a spatially dynamic behavior in the embryo, periodically entering a nuclear compartment where CDC-25.1 is abundant.
Self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells are fundamentally associated with cell-cycle progression to enable tissue specification, organ homeostasis, and potentially tumorigenesis. However, technical challenges have impaired the study of the molecular interactions coordinating cell fate choice and cell-cycle progression. Here, we bypass these limitations by using the FUCCI reporter system in human pluripotent stem cells and show that their capacity of differentiation varies during the progression of their cell cycle. These mechanisms are governed by the cell-cycle regulators cyclin D1–3 that control differentiation signals such as the TGF-β-Smad2/3 pathway. Conversely, cell-cycle manipulation using a small molecule directs differentiation of hPSCs and provides an approach to generate cell types with a clinical interest. Our results demonstrate that cell fate decisions are tightly associated with the cell-cycle machinery and reveal insights in the mechanisms synchronizing differentiation and proliferation in developing tissues.
•Cell fate decisions are cell-cycle dependent•Control of endoderm versus neuroectoderm differentiation by cyclin D-CDK4/6•Cyclin Ds control TGF-β-Smad2/3 transcriptional activity•Differentiation of hPSCs can be directed by manipulation of the cell cycle
Cell fate decisions are influenced by the cell-cycle state and cyclin D activity of a stem cell as it embarks on differentiation. Cyclin D acts via TGF-β-Smad signaling to alter the propensity for endoderm versus neuroectoderm fate.
Asymmetric positioning of the mitotic spindle before cytokinesis can produce different-sized daughter cells that have distinct fates. Here, we found an asymmetric division in the Caenorhabditis elegans Q neuroblast lineage that began with a centered spindle but generated different-sized daughters, the smaller (anterior) of which underwent apoptosis. During this division, more myosin II accumulated anteriorly, suggesting that asymmetric contractile forces might produce different-sized daughters. Indeed, partial inactivation of anterior myosin by chromophore-assisted laser inactivation created a more symmetric division and allowed the survival and differentiation of the anterior daughter. Thus, the balance of myosin activity on the two sides of a dividing cell can govern the size and fate of the daughters.
When cell cycle withdrawal accompanies terminal differentiation, biosynthesis and cellular growth are likely to change also. In this study, nucleolus size was monitored during cell fate specification in the Drosophila eye imaginal disc using fibrillarin antibody labeling. Nucleolus size is an indicator of ribosome biogenesis and can correlate with cellular growth rate. Nucleolar size was reduced significantly during cell fate specification and differentiation, predominantly as eye disc cells entered a cell cycle arrest that preceded cell fate specification. This reduction in nucleolus size required Dpp and Hh signaling. A transient enlargement of the nucleolus accompanied cell division in the Second Mitotic Wave. Nucleoli continued to diminish in postmitotic cells following fate specification. These results suggest that cellular growth is regulated early in the transition from proliferating progenitor cells to terminal cell fate specification, contemporary with regulation of the cell cycle, and requiring the same extracellular signals.
The Retinoblastoma gene product (Rb) has been shown to regulate the transcription of key genes involved in cell growth and proliferation. Consistent with this, mutations in Rb are associated with numerous types of cancer making it a critical tumour suppressor gene. Its function is conferred through a large multiprotein complex that exhibits a dual function in both activation and repression of gene targets. In C. elegans, the Rb orthologue lin-35 functions redundantly with other transcriptional regulators to appropriately specify both vulval and pharyngeal cell fates.
In C. elegans the intestinal cells must alter their cell cycle from the mitotic cell divisions typical of embryogenesis to karyokinesis and then endoreplication, which facilitates growth during larval development. While screening for genes that affect the ability of the intestinal cells to appropriately make this cell cycle transition during post-embryonic development, we isolated mutants that either compromise this switch and remain mononucleate, or cause these cells to undergo multiple rounds of nuclear division. Among these mutants we identified a novel allele of lin-35/Rb, while we also found that the components of the synMuv B complex, which are involved in vulval specification, are also required to properly regulate the developmentally-controlled cell cycle transition typical of these intestinal cells during larval development. More importantly, our work uncovered a role for certain members of the pathways involved in RNAi in mediating the efficient transition between these cell cycle programs, suggesting that lin-35/Rb cooperates with these RNAi components. Furthermore, our findings suggest that met-2, a methyltransferase as well as hpl-1 and hpl-2, two C. elegans homologues of the heterochromatin protein HP1 are also required for this transition.
Our findings are consistent with lin-35/Rb, synMuv and RNAi components cooperating, probably through their additive effects on chromatin modification, to appropriately modulate the expression of genes that are required to switch from the karyokinesis cell cycle to endoreplication; a highly specified growth pathway in the intestinal epithelium. The lin-35/Rb repressor complex may be required to initiate this process, while components of the RNAi machinery positively reinforce this repression.
In the leech Helobdella, the ectoderm exhibits a high degree of morphological homonomy between body segments, but pattern elements in lateral ectoderm arise via distinct cell lineages in the segments of the rostral and midbody regions. In each of the four rostral segments, a complete set of ventrolateral (O fate) and dorsolateral (P fate) ectodermal pattern elements arises from a single founder cell, op. In the 28 midbody and caudal segments, however, there are two initially indeterminate o/p founder cells; the more dorsal of these is induced to adopt the P fate by BMP5-8 emanating from the dorsalmost ectoderm, while the more ventral cell assumes the O fate. Previous work has suggested that the dorsoventral patterning of O and P fates differs in the rostral region, but the role of BMP signaling in those segments has not been investigated. We show here that suppression of dorsal BMP5-8 signaling (which effects a P-to-O fate change in the midbody) has no effect on the patterning of O and P fates in the rostral region. Furthermore, ectopic expression of BMP5-8 in the ventral ectoderm (which induces an O-to-P fate change in the midbody) has no effect in the rostral region. Finally, expression of a dominant-negative BMP receptor (which induces a P-to-O fate change in the midbody) fails to affect O/P patterning in the rostral region. Thus, the rostral segments appear to use some mechanism other than BMP signaling to pattern O and P cell fates along the dorsoventral axis. From a mechanistic standpoint, the OP lineage of the rostral segments and the O-P equivalence group of the midbody and caudal segments constitute distinct developmental modules that rely to differing degrees on positional cues from surrounding ectoderm in order to specify homonomous cell fates.
dorsoventral patterning; segmentation; BMP; leech; Helobdella
Interest in cell heterogeneity and differentiation has recently led to increased use of time-lapse microscopy. Previous studies have shown that cell fate may be determined well in advance of the event. We used a mixture of automation and manual review of time-lapse live cell imaging to track the positions, contours, divisions, deaths and lineage of 44 B-lymphocyte founders and their 631 progeny in vitro over a period of 108 hours. Using this data to train a Support Vector Machine classifier, we were retrospectively able to predict the fates of individual lymphocytes with more than 90% accuracy, using only time-lapse imaging captured prior to mitosis or death of 90% of all cells. The motivation for this paper is to explore the impact of labour-efficient assistive software tools that allow larger and more ambitious live-cell time-lapse microscopy studies. After training on this data, we show that machine learning methods can be used for realtime prediction of individual cell fates. These techniques could lead to realtime cell culture segregation for purposes such as phenotype screening. We were able to produce a large volume of data with less effort than previously reported, due to the image processing, computer vision, tracking and human-computer interaction tools used. We describe the workflow of the software-assisted experiments and the graphical interfaces that were needed. To validate our results we used our methods to reproduce a variety of published data about lymphocyte populations and behaviour. We also make all our data publicly available, including a large quantity of lymphocyte spatio-temporal dynamics and related lineage information.
Epigenetic control is required to maintain competency for activation and suppression of genes during cell division. Association of regulatory proteins with target gene loci during mitosis is a parameter of epigenetic control that sustains transcriptional regulatory machinery to perpetuate gene expression signatures in progeny cells. Mitotic retention of phenotypic regulatory factors with cell cycle, cell fate and tissue specific genes supports coordinate control that governs proliferation and differentiation for cell fate and lineage commitment.
cell cycle; nuclear microenvironment; gene expression; chromatin; RUNX; intranuclear trafficking