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1.  A Luminal Glycoprotein Drives Dose-Dependent Diameter Expansion of the Drosophila melanogaster Hindgut Tube 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(8):e1002850.
An important step in epithelial organ development is size maturation of the organ lumen to attain correct dimensions. Here we show that the regulated expression of Tenectin (Tnc) is critical to shape the Drosophila melanogaster hindgut tube. Tnc is a secreted protein that fills the embryonic hindgut lumen during tube diameter expansion. Inside the lumen, Tnc contributes to detectable O-Glycans and forms a dense striated matrix. Loss of tnc causes a narrow hindgut tube, while Tnc over-expression drives tube dilation in a dose-dependent manner. Cellular analyses show that luminal accumulation of Tnc causes an increase in inner and outer tube diameter, and cell flattening within the tube wall, similar to the effects of a hydrostatic pressure in other systems. When Tnc expression is induced only in cells at one side of the tube wall, Tnc fills the lumen and equally affects all cells at the lumen perimeter, arguing that Tnc acts non-cell-autonomously. Moreover, when Tnc expression is directed to a segment of a tube, its luminal accumulation is restricted to this segment and affects the surrounding cells to promote a corresponding local diameter expansion. These findings suggest that deposition of Tnc into the lumen might contribute to expansion of the lumen volume, and thereby to stretching of the tube wall. Consistent with such an idea, ectopic expression of Tnc in different developing epithelial tubes is sufficient to cause dilation, while epidermal Tnc expression has no effect on morphology. Together, the results show that epithelial tube diameter can be modelled by regulating the levels and pattern of expression of a single luminal glycoprotein.
Author Summary
Epithelial tubes constitute the functional units of vital organs, and they undergo highly regulated changes in size and shape during development to accommodate the three-dimensional configurations optimal for organ physiology. Through studies of Drosophila melanogaster, we show that epithelial tube diameter can be modelled simply by regulating the levels and pattern of expression of a single glycoprotein. The protein is secreted into the tubular lumen, where it forms a dense matrix and acts in a dose-dependent manner to drive diameter growth. We suggest that deposition of the protein into the lumen promotes local expansion of the lumen volume, and thereby stretching of the surrounding tube wall. Such a mechanism could represent a general means to adjust tube diameter during epithelial organ development.
PMCID: PMC3410870  PMID: 22876194
2.  A Two-Way Communication between Microglial Cells and Angiogenic Sprouts Regulates Angiogenesis in Aortic Ring Cultures 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15846.
Myeloid cells have been associated with physiological and pathological angiogenesis, but their exact functions in these processes remain poorly defined. Monocyte-derived tissue macrophages of the CNS, or microglial cells, invade the mammalian retina before it becomes vascularized. Recent studies correlate the presence of microglia in the developing CNS with vascular network formation, but it is not clear whether the effect is directly caused by microglia and their contact with the endothelium.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We combined in vivo studies of the developing mouse retina with in vitro studies using the aortic ring model to address the role of microglia in developmental angiogenesis. Our in vivo analyses are consistent with previous findings that microglia are present at sites of endothelial tip-cell anastomosis, and genetic ablation of microglia caused a sparser vascular network associated with reduced number of filopodia-bearing sprouts. Addition of microglia in the aortic ring model was sufficient to stimulate vessel sprouting. The effect was independent of physical contact between microglia and endothelial cells, and could be partly mimicked using microglial cell-conditioned medium. Addition of VEGF-A promoted angiogenic sprouts of different morphology in comparison with the microglial cells, and inhibition of VEGF-A did not affect the microglia-induced angiogenic response, arguing that the proangiogenic factor(s) released by microglia is distinct from VEGF-A. Finally, microglia exhibited oriented migration towards the vessels in the aortic ring cultures.
Microglia stimulate vessel sprouting in the aortic ring cultures via a soluble microglial-derived product(s), rather than direct contact with endothelial cells. The observed migration of microglia towards the growing sprouts suggests that their position near endothelial tip-cells could result from attractive cues secreted by the vessels. Our data reveals a two-way communication between microglia and vessels that depends on soluble factors and should extend the understanding of how microglia promote vascular network formation.
PMCID: PMC3018482  PMID: 21264342
3.  Trafficking through COPII Stabilises Cell Polarity and Drives Secretion during Drosophila Epidermal Differentiation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10802.
The differentiation of an extracellular matrix (ECM) at the apical side of epithelial cells implies massive polarised secretion and membrane trafficking. An epithelial cell is hence engaged in coordinating secretion and cell polarity for a correct and efficient ECM formation.
Principal Findings
We are studying the molecular mechanisms that Drosophila tracheal and epidermal cells deploy to form their specific apical ECM during differentiation. In this work we demonstrate that the two genetically identified factors haunted and ghost are essential for polarity maintenance, membrane topology as well as for secretion of the tracheal luminal matrix and the cuticle. We show that they code for the Drosophila COPII vesicle-coating components Sec23 and Sec24, respectively, that organise vesicle transport from the ER to the Golgi apparatus.
Taken together, epithelial differentiation during Drosophila embryogenesis is a concerted action of ECM formation, plasma membrane remodelling and maintenance of cell polarity that all three rely mainly, if not absolutely, on the canonical secretory pathway from the ER over the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane. Our results indicate that COPII vesicles constitute a central hub for these processes.
PMCID: PMC2875407  PMID: 20520821
4.  A Potential Role for Drosophila Mucins in Development and Physiology 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e3041.
Vital vertebrate organs are protected from the external environment by a barrier that to a large extent consists of mucins. These proteins are characterized by poorly conserved repeated sequences that are rich in prolines and potentially glycosylated threonines and serines (PTS). We have now used the characteristics of the PTS repeat domain to identify Drosophila mucins in a simple bioinformatics approach. Searching the predicted protein database for proteins with at least 4 repeats and a high ST content, more than 30 mucin-like proteins were identified, ranging from 300–23000 amino acids in length. We find that Drosophila mucins are present at all stages of the fly life cycle, and that their transcripts localize to selective organs analogous to sites of vertebrate mucin expression. The results could allow for addressing basic questions about human mucin-related diseases in this model system. Additionally, many of the mucins are expressed in selective tissues during embryogenesis, thus revealing new potential functions for mucins as apical matrix components during organ morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2515642  PMID: 18725942
5.  The Drosophila nucleoporin DNup88 localizes DNup214 and CRM1 on the nuclear envelope and attenuates NES-mediated nuclear export 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;163(4):701-706.
Many cellular responses rely on the control of nucleocytoplasmic transport of transcriptional regulators. The Drosophila nucleoporin Nup88 is selectively required for nuclear accumulation of Rel proteins and full activation of the innate immune response. Here, we investigate the mechanisms underlying its role in nucleocytoplasmic transport. Nuclear import of an nuclear localization signal-enhanced green fluorescent protein (NLS-EGFP) reporter is not affected in DNup88 (members only; mbo) mutants, whereas the level of CRM1-dependent EGFP-nuclear export signal (EGFP-NES) export is increased. We show that the nuclear accumulation of the Drosophila Rel protein Dorsal requires CRM1. DNup88 binds to DNup214 and DCRM1 in vitro, and both proteins become mislocalized from the nuclear rim into the nucleus of mbo mutants. Overexpression of DNup88 is sufficient to relocalize DNup214 and CRM1 on the nuclear envelope and revert the mutant phenotypes. We propose that a major function of DNup88 is to anchor DNup214 and CRM1 on the nuclear envelope and thereby attenuate NES-mediated nuclear export.
PMCID: PMC2173670  PMID: 14638854
NFκB; mbo; CAN; NPC; nucleocytoplasmic transport

Results 1-5 (5)