A goal in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research is the faithful differentiation to given cell types such as neural lineages. During embryonic development, a basement membrane surrounds the neural plate that forms a tight, apico-basolaterally polarized epithelium before closing to form a neural tube with a single lumen. Here we show that the three-dimensional epithelial cyst culture of hESCs in Matrigel combined with neural induction results in a quantitative conversion into neuroepithelial cysts containing a single lumen. Cells attain a defined neuroepithelial identity by 5 days. The neuroepithelial cysts naturally generate retinal epithelium, in part due to IGF-1/insulin signaling. We demonstrate the utility of this epithelial culture approach by achieving a quantitative production of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells from hESCs within 30 days. Direct transplantation of this RPE into a rat model of retinal degeneration without any selection or expansion of the cells results in the formation of a donor-derived RPE monolayer that rescues photoreceptor cells. The cyst method for neuroepithelial differentiation of pluripotent stem cells is not only of importance for RPE generation but will also be relevant to the production of other neuronal cell types and for reconstituting complex patterning events from three-dimensional neuroepithelia.
Remodeling of the chromatin network plays an important role regulating embryonic development as well as differentiation. The SWI/SNF complex is an ATP dependent chromatin-remodeling complex. It consists of several proteins, including an ATPase subunit, either Brg1 or Brm. Two subunits of this complex Baf53a and Baf45 have been previously identified as being neural progenitor specific. In this study, we show that Baf60c, another important part of this large complex, acts in a similar neural-progenitor specific manner. We show that during development Baf60c is expressed in neural progenitors in human retinas as well as mouse retina, cortex and spinal cord. Baf60c expression is lost during neural differentiation and its over-expression keeps the progenitors in a proliferative state through its interaction with the Notch pathway. Finally, we show that Baf60c is re-expressed in the Müller glial cells that reenter the cell cycle after neurotoxic damage.
Chromatin remodeling; Baf60c; retina development; retinal regeneration; neural development; Swi/Snf
Activation of A1 and A2A subtype adenosine receptors (AR) likely exert opposing effects on outflow of aqueous humor, and thereby, on intraocular pressure. Selective agonists of adenosine receptor (AR) subtypes have previously been applied to trabecular meshwork (TM) and Schlemm’s canal (SC) cells to identify the site(s) of differential purinergic modulation. However, the apparent changes in volume monitored by previously measuring projected cell area might have partially reflected cell contraction and relaxation. In addition, whole-cell current responses of the TM cells previously described were highly variable following application of selective A1, A2A and A3 agonists. The complexity of the electrophysiologic responses may have reflected cell heterogeneity of the populations harvested from collagenase digestion of TM explants. We now report measurements of TM-cell volume using calcein fluorescence quenching, an approach independent of contractile state. Furthermore, we have applied selective AR agonists to a uniform population of human TM cells, the hTM5 cell line. A1, but not A2A or A3, AR agonists triggered TM-cell shrinkage. Both A1 and A2A AR agonists produced reproducible increases in TM-cell whole-cell currents of similar magnitude.
The results suggest that previous measurements of explant-derived TM cells may have reflected a range of responses from phenotypically different cell populations, and that the opposing effects of A1 and A2A agonists on outflow resistance are not likely to be mediated by actions on a single population of TM cells. These opposing effects might reflect AR responses by two or more subpopulations of TM cells, by TM and SC cells or by inner-wall SC cells, alone.
Mutations in VMD2, encoding bestrophin (best-1), cause Best vitelliform macular dystrophy (BMD), adult-onset vitelliform macular dystrophy (AVMD), and autosomal dominant vitreoretinochoroidopathy (ADVIRC). BMD is distinguished from AVMD by a diminished electrooculogram light peak (LP) in the absence of changes in the flash electroretinogram. Although the LP is thought to be generated by best-1, we find enhanced LP luminance responsiveness with normal amplitude in Vmd2−/− mice and no differences in cellular Cl− currents in comparison to Vmd2+/+ littermates. The putative Ca2+ sensitivity of best-1, and our recent observation that best-1 alters the kinetics of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCC), led us to examine the role of VDCCs in the LP. Nimodipine diminished the LP, leading us to survey VDCC β-subunit mutant mice. Lethargic mice, which harbor a loss of function mutation in the β4 subunit of VDCCs, exhibited a significant shift in LP luminance response, establishing a role for Ca2+ in LP generation. When stimulated with ATP, which increases [Ca++]I, retinal pigment epithelial cells derived from Vmd2−/− mice exhibited a fivefold greater response than Vmd2+/+ littermates, indicating that best-1 can suppress the rise in [Ca2+]I associated with the LP. We conclude that VDCCs regulated by a β4 subunit are required to generate the LP and that best-1 antagonizes the LP luminance response potentially via its ability to modulate VDCC function. Furthermore, we suggest that the loss of vision associated with BMD is not caused by the same pathologic process as the diminished LP, but rather is caused by as yet unidentified effects of best-1 on other cellular processes.
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) contains melanosomes similar to those found in the skin melanocytes, which undergo dramatic light-dependent movements in fish and amphibians. In mammals, those movements are more subtle and appear to be regulated by the Rab27a GTPase and the unconventional myosin, Myosin VIIa (MyoVIIa). Here we address the hypothesis that a recently identified Rab27a- and MyoVIIa-interacting protein, Myrip, promotes the formation of a functional tripartite complex. In heterologous cultured cells, all three proteins co-immunoprecipitated following overexpression. Rab27a and Myrip localize to the peripheral membrane of RPE melanosomes as observed by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. Melanosome dynamics were studied using live-cell imaging of mouse RPE primary cultures. Wild-type RPE melanosomes exhibited either stationary or slow movement interrupted by bursts of fast movement, with a peripheral directionality trend. Nocodazole treatment led to melanosome paralysis, suggesting that movement requires microtubule motors. Significant and similar alterations in melanosome dynamics were observed when any one of the three components of the complex was missing, as studied in ashen- (Rab27a defective) and shaker-1 (MyoVIIa mutant)-derived RPE cells, and in wild-type RPE cells transduced with adenovirus carrying specific sequences to knockdown Myrip expression. We observed a significant increase in the number of motile melanosomes, exhibiting more frequent and prolonged bursts of fast movement, and inversion of directionality. Similar alterations were observed upon cytochalasin D treatment, suggesting that the Rab27a–Myrip–MyoVIIa complex regulates tethering of melanosomes onto actin filaments, a process that ensures melanosome movement towards the cell periphery.
melanosome motility; Myrip; Rab27a; RPE
The receptor tyrosine kinase MERTK plays an essential role in the phagocytic uptake of shed photoreceptor membranes by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). A fundamental aspect of signal transduction by receptor tyrosine kinases involves autophosphorylation of tyrosine residues that recruit Src-homology 2 (SH2)-domain proteins to the receptor intracellular domain. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the interactions of human MERTK with SH2-domain proteins present in the RPE. The MERTK intracellular domain was expressed as a 6xHis-fusion protein (6xHis-rMERTK571–999), purified and phosphorylated. Ni2+-NTA pull downs were performed using 6xHis-rMERTK571–999 in incubations with recombinant phosphotyrosine-recognition sequences expressed as GST-fusion proteins. In addition, pull downs of native SH2-domain proteins were performed using 6xHis-rMERTK571–999 and protein homogenates from rat RPE/choroid. For both recombinant and native proteins, western analysis detected MERTK interactions with GRB2, PIK3R1 (P85α), VAV3, and SRC. Immunohistochemical analysis localized each protein to mouse RPE. In cultured RPE-J cells incubated with rod outer segments (OS), siRNA knockdown of Grb2 had no effect on OS binding, but significantly reduced OS uptake. Pik3r1 localized to early phagosomes along with Rab5 and Eea1. Phosphorylation and activation of Src was detected downstream of phagocytosis and Mertk activation. These findings suggest that MERTK signaling in the RPE involves a cohort of SH2-domain proteins with the potential to regulate both cytoskeletal rearrangement and membrane movement. Identification of the SH2-domain signaling partners of MERTK is an important step toward further defining the mechanism of RPE phagocytosis that is central to the function and survival of the retina.
We sought to characterize the regenerated cells, if any, when photoreceptor ablation was mostly limited to a particular cone subtype. This allowed us to uniquely assess whether the remaining cells influence specification of regenerating photoreceptors. The ability to replace lost photoreceptors via stem cell therapy holds promise for treating many retinal degenerative diseases. Zebrafish are potent for modelling this because they have robust regenerative capacity emanating from endogenous stem cells, and abundant cone photoreceptors including multiple spectral subtypes similar to human fovea. We ablated the homolog of the human S-cones, the ultraviolet-sensitive (UV) cones, and tested the hypothesis that the photoreceptors regenerating in their place take on identities matching those expected from normal cone mosaic development. We created transgenic fish wherein UV cones can be ablated by addition of a prodrug. Thus photoreceptors developed normally and only the UV cones expressed nitroreductase; the latter converts the prodrug metronidazole to a cell-autonomous neurotoxin. A significant increase in proliferation of progenitor cell populations (p<0.01) was observed when cell ablation was primarily limited to UV cones. In control fish, we found that BrdU primarily incorporated into rod photoreceptors, as expected. However the majority of regenerating photoreceptors became cones when retinal cell ablation was predominantly restricted to UV cones: a 2-fold increase in the relative abundance of cones (p = 0.008) was mirrored by a 35% decrease in rods. By primarily ablating only a single photoreceptor type, we show that the subsequent regeneration is biased towards restoring the cognate photoreceptor type. We discuss the hypothesis that, after cone death, the microenvironment formed by the remaining retinal cells may be influential in determining the identity of regenerating photoreceptors, though other interpretations are plausible. Our novel animal model provides control of ablation that will assist in identifying mechanisms required to replace cone photoreceptors clinically to restore daytime vision.
The small GTPase CDC42 has pleiotropic functions during development and in the adult. These functions include intra- as well as intercellular tasks such as organization of the cytoskeleton and, at least in epithelial cells, formation of adherens junctions. To investigate CDC42 in the neuronal retina, we generated retina-specific Cdc42-knockdown mice (Cdc42-KD) and analyzed the ensuing consequences for the developing and postnatal retina. Lack of CDC42 affected organization of the developing retina as early as E17.5, prevented correct tissue lamination, and resulted in progressive retinal degeneration and severely reduced retinal function of the postnatal retina. Despite the disorganization of the retina, formation of the primary vascular plexus was not strongly affected. However, both deeper vascular plexi developed abnormally with no clear layering of the vessels. Retinas of Cdc42-KD mice showed increased expression of pro-survival, but also of pro-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory genes and exhibited prolonged Müller glia hypertrophy. Thus, functional CDC42 is important for correct tissue organization already during retinal development. Its absence leads to severe destabilization of the postnatal retina with strong degeneration and loss of retinal function.
Photoreceptor degeneration is the most critical cause of visual impairment in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In neovascular form of AMD, severe photoreceptor loss develops with subretinal hemorrhage due to choroidal neovascularization (CNV), growth of abnormal blood vessels from choroidal circulation. However, the detailed mechanisms of this process remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that neovascular AMD with subretinal hemorrhage accompanies a significant increase in extracellular ATP, and that extracellular ATP initiates neurodegenerative processes through specific ligation of Purinergic receptor P2X, ligand-gated ion channel, 7 (P2RX7; P2X7 receptor). Increased extracellular ATP levels were found in the vitreous samples of AMD patients with subretinal hemorrhage compared to control vitreous samples. Extravascular blood induced a massive release of ATP and photoreceptor cell apoptosis in co-culture with primary retinal cells. Photoreceptor cell apoptosis accompanied mitochondrial apoptotic pathways, namely activation of caspase-9 and translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) from mitochondria to nuclei, as well as TUNEL-detectable DNA fragmentation. These hallmarks of photoreceptor cell apoptosis were prevented by brilliant blue G (BBG), a selective P2RX7 antagonist, which is an approved adjuvant in ocular surgery. Finally, in a mouse model of subretinal hemorrhage, photoreceptor cells degenerated through BBG-inhibitable apoptosis, suggesting that ligation of P2RX7 by extracellular ATP may accelerate photoreceptor cell apoptosis in AMD with subretinal hemorrhage. Our results indicate a novel mechanism that could involve neuronal cell death not only in AMD but also in hemorrhagic disorders in the CNS and encourage the potential application of BBG as a neuroprotective therapy.
In the search for ways to combat degenerative neurological disorders, neurogenesis-stimulating factors are proving to be a promising area of research. In this study, we show that the hormonal factor prolactin (PRL) can activate a pool of latent precursor cells in the adult mouse hippocampus. Using an in vitro neurosphere assay, we found that the addition of exogenous PRL to primary adult hippocampal cells resulted in an approximate 50% increase in neurosphere number. In addition, direct infusion of PRL into the adult dentate gyrus also resulted in a significant increase in neurosphere number. Together these data indicate that exogenous PRL can increase hippocampal precursor numbers both in vitro and in vivo. Conversely, PRL null mice showed a significant reduction (approximately 80%) in the number of hippocampal-derived neurospheres. Interestingly, no deficit in precursor proliferation was observed in vivo, indicating that in this situation other niche factors can compensate for a loss in PRL. The PRL loss resulted in learning and memory deficits in the PRL null mice, as indicated by significant deficits in the standard behavioral tests requiring input from the hippocampus. This behavioral deficit was rescued by direct infusion of recombinant PRL into the hippocampus, indicating that a lack of PRL in the adult mouse hippocampus can be correlated with impaired learning and memory.
TLX has been shown to play an important role in regulating the self-renewal and proliferation of neural stem cells in adult brains. However, the cellular distribution of endogenous TLX protein in adult brains remains to be elucidated. In this study, we used immunostaining with a TLX-specific antibody to show that TLX is expressed in both neural stem cells and transit-amplifying neural progenitor cells in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of adult mouse brains. Then, using a double thymidine analog labeling approach, we showed that almost all of the self-renewing neural stem cells expressed TLX. Interestingly, most of the TLX-positive cells in the SVZ represented the thymidine analog-negative, relatively quiescent neural stem cell population. Using cell type markers and short-term BrdU labeling, we demonstrated that TLX was also expressed in the Mash1+ rapidly dividing type C cells. Furthermore, loss of TLX expression dramatically reduced BrdU label-retaining neural stem cells and the actively dividing neural progenitor cells in the SVZ, but substantially increased GFAP staining and extended GFAP processes. These results suggest that TLX is essential to maintain the self-renewing neural stem cells in the SVZ and that the GFAP+ cells in the SVZ lose neural stem cell property upon loss of TLX expression.Understanding the cellular distribution of TLX and its function in specific cell types may provide insights into the development of therapeutic tools for neurodegenerative diseases by targeting TLX in neural stem/progenitors cells.
Parent of origin imprints on the genome have been implicated in the regulation of neural cell type differentiation. The ability of human parthenogenetic (PG) embryonic stem cells (hpESCs) to undergo neural lineage and cell type-specific differentiation is undefined. We determined the potential of hpESCs to differentiate into various neural subtypes. Concurrently, we examined DNA methylation and expression status of imprinted genes. Under culture conditions promoting neural differentiation, hpESC-derived neural stem cells (hpNSCs) gave rise to glia and neuron-like cells that expressed subtype-specific markers and generated action potentials. Analysis of imprinting in hpESCs and in hpNSCs revealed that maternal-specific gene expression patterns and imprinting marks were generally maintained in PG cells upon differentiation. Our results demonstrate that despite the lack of a paternal genome, hpESCs generate proliferating NSCs that are capable of differentiation into physiologically functional neuron-like cells and maintain allele-specific expression of imprinted genes. Thus, hpESCs can serve as a model to study the role of maternal and paternal genomes in neural development and to better understand imprinting-associated brain diseases.
The Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathbway controls many important biological processes. R-Spondin (RSPO) proteins are a family of secreted molecules that strongly potentiate Wnt/β-catenin signaling, however, the molecular mechanism of RSPO action is not yet fully understood. We performed an unbiased siRNA screen to identify molecules specifically required for RSPO, but not Wnt, induced β-catenin signaling. From this screen, we identified LGR4, then an orphan G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), as the cognate receptor of RSPO. Depletion of LGR4 completely abolished RSPO-induced β-catenin signaling. The loss of LGR4 could be compensated by overexpression of LGR5, suggesting that LGR4 and LGR5 are functional homologs. We further demonstrated that RSPO binds to the extracellular domain of LGR4 and LGR5, and that overexpression of LGR4 strongly sensitizes cells to RSPO-activated β-catenin signaling. Supporting the physiological significance of RSPO-LGR4 interaction, Lgr4−/− crypt cultures failed to grow in RSPO-containing intestinal crypt culture medium. No coupling between LGR4 and heterotrimeric G proteins could be detected in RSPO-treated cells, suggesting that LGR4 mediates RSPO signaling through a novel mechanism. Identification of LGR4 and its relative LGR5, an adult stem cell marker, as the receptors of RSPO will facilitate the further characterization of these receptor/ligand pairs in regenerative medicine applications.
Reporter-based assays underlie many high-throughput screening (HTS) platforms, but most are limited to in vitro applications. Here, we report a simple whole-organism HTS method for quantifying changes in reporter intensity in individual zebrafish over time termed, Automated Reporter Quantification in vivo (ARQiv). ARQiv differs from current “high-content” (e.g., confocal imaging-based) whole-organism screening technologies by providing a purely quantitative data acquisition approach that affords marked improvements in throughput. ARQiv uses a fluorescence microplate reader with specific detection functionalities necessary for robust quantification of reporter signals in vivo. This approach is: 1) Rapid; achieving true HTS capacities (i.e., >50,000 units per day), 2) Reproducible; attaining HTS-compatible assay quality (i.e., Z'-factors of ≥0.5), and 3) Flexible; amenable to nearly any reporter-based assay in zebrafish embryos, larvae, or juveniles. ARQiv is used here to quantify changes in: 1) Cell number; loss and regeneration of two different fluorescently tagged cell types (pancreatic beta cells and rod photoreceptors), 2) Cell signaling; relative activity of a transgenic Notch-signaling reporter, and 3) Cell metabolism; accumulation of reactive oxygen species. In summary, ARQiv is a versatile and readily accessible approach facilitating evaluation of genetic and/or chemical manipulations in living zebrafish that complements current “high-content” whole-organism screening methods by providing a first-tier in vivo HTS drug discovery platform.
In this study, we used a newly-created transgenic zebrafish, Tg(nrd:egfp)/albino, to further characterize the expression of neurod in the developing and adult retina and to determine neurod expression during adult photoreceptor regeneration. We also provide observations regarding the expression of neurod in a variety of other tissues. In this line, EGFP is found in cells of the developing and adult retina, pineal gland, cerebellum, olfactory bulbs, midbrain, hindbrain, neural tube, lateral line, inner ear, pancreas, gut, and fin. Using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, we compare the expression of the nrd:egfp transgene to that of endogenous neurod and to known retinal cell types. Consistent with previous data based on in situ hybridizations, we show that during retinal development, the nrd:egfp transgene is not expressed in proliferating retinal neuroepithelium, and is expressed in a subset of retinal neurons. In contrast to previous studies, nrd:egfp is gradually re-expressed in all rod photoreceptors. During photoreceptor regeneration in adult zebrafish, in situ hybridization reveals that neurod is not expressed in Müller glial-derived neuronal progenitors, but is expressed in photoreceptor progenitors as they migrate to the outer nuclear layer and differentiate into new rod photoreceptors. During photoreceptor regeneration, expression of the nrd:egfp matches that of neurod. We conclude that Tg(nrd:egfp)/albino is a good representation of endogenous neurod expression, is a useful tool to visualize neurod expression in a variety of tissues and will aid investigating the fundamental processes that govern photoreceptor regeneration in adults.
The teleost fish Danio rerio (zebrafish) has a remarkable ability to generate newborn neurons in its brain at adult stages of its lifespan-a process called adult neurogenesis. This ability relies on proliferating ventricular progenitors and is in striking contrast to mammalian brains that have rather restricted capacity for adult neurogenesis. Therefore, investigating the zebrafish brain can help not only to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of widespread adult neurogenesis in a vertebrate species, but also to design therapies in humans with what we learn from this teleost. Yet, understanding the cellular behavior and molecular programs underlying different biological processes in the adult zebrafish brain requires techniques that allow manipulation of gene function. As a complementary method to the currently used misexpression techniques in zebrafish, such as transgenic approaches or electroporation-based delivery of DNA, we devised a cerebroventricular microinjection (CVMI)-assisted knockdown protocol that relies on vivo morpholino oligonucleotides, which do not require electroporation for cellular uptake. This rapid method allows uniform and efficient knockdown of genes in the ventricular cells of the zebrafish brain, which contain the neurogenic progenitors. We also provide data on the use of CVMI for growth factor administration to the brain – in our case FGF8, which modulates the proliferation rate of the ventricular cells. In this paper, we describe the CVMI method and discuss its potential uses in zebrafish.
Diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity are diseases caused by pathological angiogenesis in the retina as a consequence of local hypoxia. The underlying mechanism for epiretinal neovascularization (tuft formation), which contributes to blindness, has yet to be identified. Neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) is expressed by Müller cells and astrocytes, which are in close contact with the retinal vasculature, during normal developmental angiogenesis.
Notably, during oxygen induced retinopathy (OIR) N-CAM accumulated on astrocytes surrounding the epiretinal tufts. Here, we show that N-CAM ablation results in reduced vascular tuft formation due to reduced endothelial cell proliferation despite an elevation in VEGFA mRNA expression, whereas retinal developmental angiogenesis was unaffected.
We conclude that N-CAM exhibits a regulatory function in pathological angiogenesis in OIR. This is a novel finding that can be of clinical relevance in diseases associated with proliferative vasculopathy.
In the present study, we aim to elucidate the roles of caveolin-1(Cav-1), a 22 kDa protein in plasma membrane invaginations, in modulating neuronal differentiation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs). In the hippocampal dentate gyrus, we found that Cav-1 knockout mice revealed remarkably higher levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the more abundant formation of newborn neurons than wild type mice. We then studied the potential mechanisms of Cav-1 in modulating VEGF signaling and neuronal differentiation in isolated cultured NPCs under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Hypoxic embryonic rat NPCs were exposed to 1% O2 for 24 h and then switched to 21% O2 for 1, 3, 7 and 14 days whereas normoxic NPCs were continuously cultured with 21% O2. Compared with normoxic NPCs, hypoxic NPCs had down-regulated expression of Cav-1 and up-regulated VEGF expression and p44/42MAPK phosphorylation, and enhanced neuronal differentiation. We further studied the roles of Cav-1 in inhibiting neuronal differentiation by using Cav-1 scaffolding domain peptide and Cav-1-specific small interfering RNA. In both normoxic and hypoxic NPCs, Cav-1 peptide markedly down-regulated the expressions of VEGF and flk1, decreased the phosphorylations of p44/42MAPK, Akt and Stat3, and inhibited neuronal differentiation, whereas the knockdown of Cav-1 promoted the expression of VEGF, phosphorylations of p44/42MAPK, Akt and Stat3, and stimulated neuronal differentiation. Moreover, the enhanced phosphorylations of p44/42MAPK, Akt and Stat3, and neuronal differentiation were abolished by co-treatment of VEGF inhibitor V1. These results provide strong evidence to prove that Cav-1 can inhibit neuronal differentiation via down-regulations of VEGF, p44/42MAPK, Akt and Stat3 signaling pathways, and that VEGF signaling is a crucial target of Cav-1. The hypoxia-induced down-regulation of Cav-1 contributes to enhanced neuronal differentiation in NPCs.
Previous studies have shown that Müller glia are closely related to retinal progenitors; these two cell types express many of the same genes and after damage to the retina, Müller glia can serve as a source for new neurons, particularly in non-mammalian vertebrates. We investigated the period of postnatal retinal development when progenitors are differentiating into Müller glia to better understand this transition. FACS purified retinal progenitors and Müller glia from various ages of Hes5-GFP mice were analyzed by Affymetrix cDNA microarrays. We found that genes known to be enriched/expressed by Müller glia steadily increase over the first three postnatal weeks, while genes associated with the mitotic cell cycle are rapidly downregulated from P0 to P7. Interestingly, progenitor genes not directly associated with the mitotic cell cycle, like the proneural genes Ascl1 and Neurog2, decline more slowly over the first 10–14 days of postnatal development, and there is a peak in Notch signaling several days after the presumptive Müller glia have been generated. To confirm that Notch signaling continues in the postmitotic Müller glia, we performed in situ hybridization, immunolocalization for the active form of Notch, and immunofluorescence for BrdU. Using genetic and pharmacological approaches, we found that sustained Notch signaling in the postmitotic Müller glia is necessary for their maturation and the stabilization of the glial identity for almost a week after the cells have exited the mitotic cell cycle.
The zebrafish has the capacity to regenerate many tissues and organs. The caudal fin is one of the most convenient tissues to approach experimentally due to its accessibility, simple structure and fast regeneration. In this work we investigate how the regenerative capacity is affected by recurrent fin amputations and by experimental manipulations that block regeneration.
We show that consecutive repeated amputations of zebrafish caudal fin do not reduce its regeneration capacity and do not compromise any of the successive regeneration steps: wound healing, blastema formation and regenerative outgrowth. Interfering with Wnt/ß-catenin signalling using heat-shock-mediated overexpression of Dickkopf1 completely blocks fin regeneration. Notably, if these fins were re-amputated at the non-inhibitory temperature, the regenerated caudal fin reached the original length, even after several rounds of consecutive Wnt/ß-catenin signalling inhibition and re-amputation.
We show that the caudal fin has an almost unlimited capacity to regenerate. Even after inhibition of regeneration caused by the loss of Wnt/ß-catenin signalling, a new amputation resets the regeneration capacity within the caudal fin, suggesting that blastema formation does not depend on a pool of stem/progenitor cells that require Wnt/ß-catenin signalling for their survival.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have recently been considered to be involved in the neurogenic response of adult neural stem/progenitor cells. However, there is a lack of information showing direct association between the activation of MMPs and the development of neuronal progenitor cells involving proliferation and/or further differentiation in vulnerable (Cornus Ammoni-CA1) and resistant (dentate gyrus-DG) to ischemic injury areas of the brain hippocampus.
We showed that dynamics of MMPs activation in the dentate gyrus correlated closely with the rate of proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells into mature neurons. In contrast, in the damaged CA1 pyramidal cells layer, despite the fact that some proliferating cells exhibited antigen specific characteristic of newborn neuronal cells, these did not attain maturity. This coincides with the low, near control-level, activity of MMPs. The above results are supported by our in vitro study showing that MMP inhibitors interfered with both the proliferation and differentiation of the human neural stem cell line derived from umbilical cord blood (HUCB-NSCs) toward the neuronal lineage.
Taken together, the spatial and temporal profiles of MMPs activity suggest that these proteinases could be an important component in neurogenesis-associated processes in post-ischemic brain hippocampus.
The P23H mutation in the rhodopsin gene causes rhodopsin misfolding, altered trafficking and formation of insoluble aggregates leading to photoreceptor degeneration and autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RP). There are no effective therapies to treat this condition. Compounds that enhance dissociation of protein aggregates may be of value in developing new treatments for such diseases. Anti-protein aggregating activity of curcumin has been reported earlier. In this study we present that treatment of COS-7 cells expressing mutant rhodopsin with curcumin results in dissociation of mutant protein aggregates and decreases endoplasmic reticulum stress. Furthermore we demonstrate that administration of curcumin to P23H-rhodopsin transgenic rats improves retinal morphology, physiology, gene expression and localization of rhodopsin. Our findings indicate that supplementation of curcumin improves retinal structure and function in P23H-rhodopsin transgenic rats. This data also suggest that curcumin may serve as a potential therapeutic agent in treating RP due to the P23H rhodopsin mutation and perhaps other degenerative diseases caused by protein trafficking defects.
Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotency by transduction of four defined transcription factors. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) are expected to be useful for regenerative medicine as well as basic research. Recently, the report showed that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) cells are not essential for reprogramming. However, in using fibroblasts as donor cells for reprogramming, individual fibroblasts that had failed to reprogram could function as feeder cells.
Here, we show that adult mouse neural stem cells (NSCs), which are not functional feeder cells, can be reprogrammed into iPS cells using defined four factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc) under feeder-free conditions. The iPS cells, generated from NSCs expressing the Oct4-GFP reporter gene, could proliferate for more than two months (passage 20). Generated and maintained without feeder cells, these iPS cells expressed pluripotency markers (Oct4 and Nanog), the promoter regions of Oct4 and Nanog were hypomethylated, could differentiated into to all three germ layers in vitro, and formed a germline chimera. These data indicate that NSCs can achieve and maintain pluripotency under feeder-free conditions.
This study suggested that factors secreted by feeder cells are not essential in the initial/early stages of reprogramming and for pluripotency maintenance. This technology might be useful for a human system, as a feeder-free reprogramming system may help generate iPS cells of a clinical grade for tissue or organ regeneration.
The Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway is important for neurogenesis in vivo. Gli transcription factors, effector proteins of the Shh signaling pathway, have neurogenic properties in vivo, which are still poorly understood. To study the molecular basis of neurogenic properties of Gli2, we used a well-established embryonic stem cell model, the P19 embryonal carcinoma (EC) cell line, which can be induced to differentiate into neurons in the presence of retinoic acid (RA). We found that, in the absence of RA, overexpression of Gli2 induced P19 EC cells to differentiate into neurons, but not astrocytes during the first ten days of differentiation. To our knowledge, this is the first indication that the expression of Gli factors can convert EC cells into neurons. Furthermore, Gli2 upregulated expression of the neurogenic basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) factors, such as NeuroD, Neurog1 and Ascl1/Mash1 in P19 EC cells. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we showed that Gli2 bound to multiple regulatory regions in the Ascl1 gene, including promoter and enhancer regions during Gli2-induced neurogenesis. In addition, Gli2 activated the Ascl1/Mash1 promoter in vitro. Using the expression of a dominant-negative form of Gli2, fused to the Engrailed repression domain, we observed a reduction in gliogenesis and a significant downregulation of the bHLH factors Ascl1/Mash1, Neurog1 and NeuroD, leading to delayed neurogenesis in P19 EC cells, further supporting the hypothesis that Ascl1/Mash1 is a direct target of Gli2. In summary, Gli2 is sufficient to induce neurogenesis in P19 stem cells at least in part by directly upregulating Ascl1/Mash1. Our results provide mechanistic insight into the neurogenic properties of Gli2 in vitro, and offer novel plausible explanations for its in vivo neurogenic properties.
Mammalian peripheral retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) cells proliferate throughout life, while central cells are senescent. It is thought that some peripheral cells migrate centrally to correct age-related central RPE loss.
We ask whether this proliferative capacity is intrinsic to such cells and whether cells located centrally produce diffusible signals imposing senescence upon the former once migrated. We also ask whether there are regional differences in expression patterns of key genes involved in these features between the centre and the periphery in vivo and in vitro. Low density RPE cultures obtained from adult mice revealed significantly greater levels of proliferation when derived from peripheral compared to central tissue, but this significance declined with increasing culture density. Further, exposure to centrally conditioned media had no influence on proliferation in peripheral RPE cell cultures at the concentrations examined. Central cells expressed significantly higher levels of E-Cadherin revealing a tighter cell adhesion than in the peripheral regions. Fluorescence-labelled staining for E-Cadherin, F-actin and ZO-1 in vivo revealed different patterns with significantly increased expression on central RPE cells than those in the periphery or differences in junctional morphology. A range of other genes were investigated both in vivo and in vitro associated with RPE proliferation in order to identify gene expression differences between the centre and the periphery. Specifically, the cell cycle inhibitor p27Kip1 was significantly elevated in central senescent regions in vivo and mTOR, associated with RPE cell senescence, was significantly elevated in the centre in comparison to the periphery.
These data show that the proliferative capacity of peripheral RPE cells is intrinsic and cell-autonomous in adult mice. These differences between centre and periphery are reflected in distinct patterns in junctional markers. The regional proliferation differences may be inversely dependent to cell-cell contact.