Cardiac valves originate from endocardial cushions (EC) formed by endothelial-to-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) during embryogenesis. The zinc-finger transcription factor Snai1 has previously been reported to be important for EMT during organogenesis, yet its role in early valve development has not been directly examined. In this study we show that Snai1 is highly expressed in endothelial, and newly transformed mesenchyme cells during EC development. Mice with targeted snai1 knockdown display hypocellular ECs at E10.5 associated with decreased expression of mesenchyme cell markers and downregulation of the matrix metalloproteinase (mmp) family member, mmp15. Snai1 overexpression studies in atrioventricular canal collagen I gel explants indicate that Snai1 is sufficient to promote mmp15 expression, cell transformation, and mesenchymal cell migration and invasion. However, treatment with the catalytically active form of MMP15 promotes cell motility, and not transformation. Further, we show that Snai1-mediated cell migration requires MMP activity, and caMMP15 treatment rescues attenuated migration defects observed in murine ECs following snai1 knockdown. Together, findings from this study reveal previously unappreciated mechanisms of Snai1 for the direct regulation of MMPs during EC development.
Snai1; MMP15; endocardial cushion; heart valve; endothelial-to-mesenchymal transformation
The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved intercellular signaling mechanism that is required for embryonic development, cell fate specification, and stem cell maintenance. Discovered and studied initially in Drosophila melanogaster, the Notch pathway is conserved and functionally active throughout the animal kingdom. In this paper, we summarize the biochemical mechanisms of Notch signaling and describe its role in regulating one particular developmental pathway, oogenesis in Drosophila.
Notch signaling in the cardiovascular system is important during embryonic development, vascular repair of injury, and vascular pathology in humans. The vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) expresses multiple Notch receptors throughout its life cycle, and responds to Notch ligands as a regulatory mechanism of differentiation, recruitment to growing vessels, and maturation. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of the current understanding of the molecular basis for Notch regulation of VSMC phenotype. Further, we will explore Notch interaction with other signaling pathways important in VSMC.
Notch; vascular smooth muscle; signaling
The formation of mammalian secondary palate requires a series of developmental events such as growth, elevation and fusion. Despite recent advances in the field of palate development, the process of palate elevation remains poorly understood. The current consensus on palate elevation is that the distal end of the vertical palatal shelf corresponds to the medial edge of the elevated horizontal palatal shelf. We provide evidence suggesting that the prospective medial edge of the vertical palate is located toward the interior side (the side adjacent to the tongue), instead of the distal end, of the vertical palatal shelf and that the horizontal palatal axis is generated through palatal outgrowth from the side of the vertical palatal shelf rather than rotating the pre-existing vertical axis orthogonally. Since palate elevation represents a classical example of embryonic tissue re-orientation, our findings here may also shed light on the process of tissue re-orientation in general.
palate development; palate elevation; tissue re-orientation
The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionarily-conserved intercellular signaling mechanism, and mutations in its components disrupt embryonic development in many organisms and cause inherited diseases in humans. The Jagged2 (Jag2) gene, which encodes a ligand for Notch pathway receptors, is required for craniofacial, limb and T cell development. Mice homozygous for a Jag2 null allele die at birth from cleft palate, precluding study of Jag2 function in postnatal and adult mice. We have generated a Jag2 conditional null allele by flanking the first two exons of the Jag2 gene with loxP sites. Cre-mediated deletion of the Jag2flox allele generates the Jag2del2 allele, which behaves genetically as a Jag2 null allele. This Jag2 conditional null allele will enable investigation of Jag2 function in a variety of tissue-specific contexts.
Notch signaling; conditional null allele; Cre-loxP; gene targeting
Notch signaling is essential for embryonic vascular development in mammals and other vertebrates. Here we show that mouse embryos with conditional activation of the Notch1 gene in endothelial cells (Notch1 gain of function embryos) exhibit defects in vascular remodeling, increased diameter of the dorsal aortae, and form arteriovenous malformations. Conversely, embryos with either constitutive or endothelial cell-specific Notch1 gene deletion also have vascular defects, but exhibit decreased diameter of the dorsal aortae and form arteriovenous malformations distinctly different from the Notch1 gain of function mutants. Surprisingly, embryos homozygous for mutations of the ephrinB/EphB pathway genes Efnb2 and Ephb4 exhibit vascular defects and arteriovenous malformations that phenocopy the Notch1 gain of function mutants. These results suggest that formation of arteriovenous malformations in Notch1 gain of function mutants and ephrinB/EphB pathway loss of function mutant embryos occurs by different mechanisms.
angiogenesis; arteriovenous malformation; EphrinB2; EphB4; Notch signaling pathway; vascular morphogenesis
HSCs either self-renew or differentiate to give rise to multipotent cells whose progeny provide blood cell precursors. However, surprisingly little is known about the factors that regulate this choice of self-renewal versus differentiation. One candidate is the Notch signaling pathway, with ex vivo studies suggesting that Notch regulates HSC differentiation, although a functional role for Notch in HSC self-renewal in vivo remains controversial. Here, we have shown that Notch2, and not Notch1, inhibits myeloid differentiation and enhances generation of primitive Sca-1+c-kit+ progenitors following in vitro culture of enriched HSCs with purified Notch ligands. In mice, Notch2 enhanced the rate of formation of short-term repopulating multipotential progenitor cells (MPPs) as well as long-term repopulating HSCs, while delaying myeloid differentiation in BM following injury. However, consistent with previous reports, once homeostasis was achieved, neither Notch1 nor Notch2 affected repopulating cell self-renewal. These data indicate a Notch2-dependent role in assuring orderly repopulation by HSCs, MPPs, myeloid cells, and lymphoid cells during BM regeneration.
Neuronal migration is a fundamental component of brain development whose failure is associated with various neurological and psychiatric disorders. Reelin is essential for the stereotypical inside-out sequential lamination of the neocortex, but the molecular mechanisms of its action still remain unclear. Here we show that regulation of Notch activity plays an important part in Reelin signal-dependent neuronal migration. We found that Reelin-deficient mice have reduced levels of the cleaved form of Notch intracellular domain (Notch ICD) and that loss of Notch signaling in migrating neurons results in migration and morphology defects. Further, overexpression of Notch ICD mitigates the laminar and morphological abnormalities of migrating neurons in Reeler. Finally, our in vitro biochemical studies show that Reelin signaling inhibits Notch ICD degradation via Dab1. Together, our results indicate that neuronal migration in the developing cerebral cortex requires a Reelin-Notch interaction.
migration; cerebral cortex; Reelin; Notch
Notch1 regulates binary cell fate determination and is critical for angiogenesis and cardiovascular development. However, the pathophysiological role of Notch1 in the postnatal period is not known. We hypothesize that Notch1 signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) may contribute to neointimal formation following vascular injury.
Methods and Results
We performed carotid artery ligation in wild-type (WT), control (smCre-Tg), general Notch1 heterozygous deficient (N1+/-), SMC-specific Notch1 heterozygous deficient (smN1+/-), and general Notch3 homozygous deficient (N3-/-) mice. Compared to WT or control mice, N1+/- and smN1+/- mice showed a 70% decrease in neointimal formation following carotid artery ligation. However, neointimal formation was similar between WT and N3-/- mice. Indeed, SMC derived from explanted aortas of either N1+/- or smN1+/- mice showed decreased chemotaxis and proliferation, and increased apoptosis compared to control or N3-/- mice. This correlated with decreased staining of PCNA positive cells and increased staining of cleaved Caspase-3 in the intima of N1+/- or smN1+/- mice. In SMC derived from CHF1/Hey2-/- mice, activation of Notch signaling did not lead to increase SMC proliferation or migration.
These findings indicate that Notch1, rather than Notch3, mediates SMC proliferation and neointimal formation following vascular injury through CHF1/Hey2 and suggest that therapies, which target Notch1/CHF1/Hey2 in SMC, may be beneficial in preventing vascular proliferative diseases.
smooth muscle cells; proliferation; vascular injury; signal transduction; arteriosclerosis
Members of the Snail gene family, which encode zinc finger proteins that function as transcriptional repressors, play essential roles during embryonic development in vertebrates. Mouse embryos with conditional deletion of the Snail1 (Snai1) gene in the epiblast, but not in most extraembryonic membranes, exhibit defects in left-right asymmetry specification and migration of mesoderm cells through the posterior primitive streak. Here we describe phenotypic defects that result in death of the mutant embryos by 9.5 days of gestation.
Endothelial cells differentiated in epiblast-specific Snai1-deficient embryos, but formation of an interconnected vascular network was abnormal. To determine whether the observed vascular defects were dependent on disruption of blood flow, we analyzed vascular remodeling in cultured allantois explants from the mutant embryos. Similar vascular defects were observed in the mutant allantois explants.
These studies demonstrate that lethality in the Snai1-conditional mutant embryos is caused by multiple defects in the cardiovascular system.
Notch receptors are expressed in neurons and glia in the adult nervous system, but why this expression persists is not well-understood. Here we examine the role of the Notch pathway in the postnatal mouse main olfactory system, and show evidence consistent with a model where Notch2 is required for maintaining sustentacular cell function. In the absence of Notch2, the laminar nature of these glial-like cells is disrupted. Hes1, Hey1, and Six1, which are downstream effectors of the Notch pathway, are down-regulated, and cytochrome P450 and Glutathione S-transferase (GST) expression by sustentacular cells is reduced. Functional levels of GST activity are also reduced. These disruptions are associated with increased olfactory sensory neuron degeneration. Surprisingly, expression of Notch3 is also down-regulated. This suggests the existence of a feedback loop where expression of Notch3 is initially independent of Notch2, but requires Notch2 for maintained expression. While the Notch pathway has previously been shown to be important for promoting gliogenesis during development, this is the first demonstration that the persistent expression of Notch receptors is required for maintaining glial function in adult.
Notch; glia; olfactory; sustentacular; neurodegeneration; Hes1; Hey1; Six1; Notch2; GST
Notch receptors are important mediators of cell fate during embryogenesis, but their role in adult physiology, particularly in postnatal angiogenesis, remains unknown. Of the Notch receptors, only Notch1 and Notch4 are expressed in vascular endothelial cells. Here we show that blood flow recovery and postnatal neovascularization in response to hindlimb ischemia in haploinsufficient global or endothelial-specific Notch1+/- mice, but not Notch4-/- mice, were impaired compared with wild-type mice. The expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in response to ischemia was comparable between wild-type and Notch mutant mice, suggesting that Notch1 is downstream of VEGF signaling. Treatment of endothelial cells with VEGF increases presenilin proteolytic processing, γ-secretase activity, Notch1 cleavage, and Hes-1 (hairy enhancer of split homolog-1) expression, all of which were blocked by treating endothelial cells with inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase Akt or infecting endothelial cells with a dominant-negative Akt mutant. Indeed, inhibition of γ-secretase activity leads to decreased angiogenesis and inhibits VEGF-induced endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and survival. Overexpression of the active Notch1 intercellular domain rescued the inhibitory effects of γ-secretase inhibitors on VEGF-induced angiogenesis. These findings indicate that the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway mediates γ-secretase and Notch1 activation by VEGF and that Notch1 is critical for VEGF-induced postnatal angiogenesis. These results suggest that Notch1 may be a novel therapeutic target for improving angiogenic response and blood flow recovery in ischemic limbs.
angiogenesis; endothelium; ischemia; vasculature
The product of the Snail1 gene is a transcriptional repressor required for triggering the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, ectopic expression of Snail1 in epithelial cells promotes resistance to apoptosis. In this study, we demonstrate that this resistance to γ radiation-induced apoptosis caused by Snail1 is associated with the inhibition of PTEN phosphatase. In MDCK cells, mRNA levels of the p53 target gene PTEN are induced after γ radiation; the transfection of Snail1 prevents this up-regulation. Decreased mRNA levels of PTEN were also detected in RWP-1 cells after the ectopic expression of this transcriptional factor. Snail1 represses and associates to the PTEN promoter as detected both by the electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments performed with either endogenous or ectopic Snail1. The binding of Snail1 to the PTEN promoter increases after γ radiation, correlating with the stabilization of Snail1 protein, and prevents the association of p53 to the PTEN promoter. These results stress the critical role of Snail1 in the control of apoptosis and demonstrate the regulation of PTEN phosphatase by this transcriptional repressor.
CD4+ T helper cells differentiate into Th1 or Th2 effector lineages, which orchestrate immunity to different types of microbes. Both Th1 and Th2 differentiation can be induced by Notch, but what dictates which of these programs is activated in response to Notch is not known. The requirement for Notch in T helper differentiation is controversial. Using T cell specific gene ablation of the Notch effector RBP-J or the Notch1 and 2 receptors, we show here that Notch is required on CD4+ T cells for physiological Th2 responses to parasite antigens. We find that Gata3 is necessary for Notch induced Th2 differentiation and identify an upstream gata3 promoter as a direct target for Notch signaling. Moreover, we observed that absence of Gata3 turns Notch from a Th2 inducer into a powerful inducer of Th1 differentiation. Therefore, Gata3 is a critical element determining inductive Th2 differentiation and limiting Th1 differentiation by Notch.
Alagille syndrome is a developmental disorder caused predominantly by mutations in the Jagged1 (JAG1) gene, which encodes a ligand for Notch family receptors. A characteristic feature of Alagille syndrome is intrahepatic bile duct paucity. We described previously that mice doubly heterozygous for Jag1 and Notch2 mutations are an excellent model for Alagille syndrome. However, our previous study did not establish whether bile duct paucity in Jag1/Notch2 double heterozygous mice resulted from impaired differentiation of bile duct precursor cells, or from defects in bile duct morphogenesis.
Here we characterize embryonic biliary tract formation in our previously described Jag1/Notch2 double heterozygous Alagille syndrome model, and describe another mouse model of bile duct paucity resulting from liver-specific deletion of the Notch2 gene.
Our data support a model in which bile duct paucity in Notch pathway loss of function mutant mice results from defects in bile duct morphogenesis rather than cell fate specification.
In mammals, six separate sensory regions in the inner ear are essential for hearing and balance function. Each sensory region is made up of hair cells, which are the sensory cells, and their associated supporting cells, both arising from a common progenitor. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms that govern the development of these sensory organs. Notch signaling plays a pivotal role in the differentiation of hair cells and supporting cells by mediating lateral inhibition via the ligands Delta-like 1 and Jagged (JAG) 2. However, another Notch ligand, JAG1, is expressed early in the sensory patches prior to cell differentiation, indicating that there may be an earlier role for Notch signaling in sensory development in the ear. Here, using conditional gene targeting, we show that the Jag1 gene is required for the normal development of all six sensory organs within the inner ear. Cristae are completely lacking in Jag1-conditional knockout (cko) mutant inner ears, whereas the cochlea and utricle show partial sensory development. The saccular macula is present but malformed. Using SOX2 and p27kip1 as molecular markers of the prosensory domain, we show that JAG1 is initially expressed in all the prosensory regions of the ear, but becomes down-regulated in the nascent organ of Corti by embryonic day 14.5, when the cells exit the cell cycle and differentiate. We also show that both SOX2 and p27kip1 are down-regulated in Jag1-cko inner ears. Taken together, these data demonstrate that JAG1 is expressed early in the prosensory domains of both the cochlear and vestibular regions, and is required to maintain the normal expression levels of both SOX2 and p27kip1. These data demonstrate that JAG1-mediated Notch signaling is essential during early development for establishing the prosensory regions of the inner ear.
Deafness and adult-onset hearing loss are significant health problems. In most cases, deafness or vestibular dysfunction results when the sensory cells in the inner ear, known as hair cells, degenerate due to environmental or genetic causes. In the mammalian inner ear, the hair cells and their associated supporting cells can be found in six different patches that have particular functions related to hearing or balance. Unfortunately, unlike in birds or fish, mammalian hair cells show little ability to regenerate, resulting in a permanent hearing or balance disorder when damaged. Here, the authors show that a protein called JAG1, a ligand in the Notch signaling pathway, is required for the normal development of all six sensory regions in the mammalian inner ear. In ears that lacked JAG1, some of the sensory patches were missing completely, whereas others were small and lacked particular cell types. The authors showed that JAG1 is required by the sensory precursors, progenitor cells that give rise to both the hair cells and the supporting cells. By understanding how the sensory areas develop normally, it is hoped that molecular tools can be developed that will aid sensory regeneration in the mammalian inner ear.
Snail family genes encode DNA binding zinc finger proteins that act as transcriptional repressors. Mouse embryos deficient for the Snail (Sna) gene exhibit defects in the formation of the mesoderm germ layer. In Sna−/− mutant embryos, a mesoderm layer forms and mesodermal marker genes are induced but the mutant mesoderm is morphologically abnormal. Lacunae form within the mesoderm layer of the mutant embryos, and cells lining these lacunae retain epithelial characteristics. These cells resemble a columnar epithelium and have apical-basal polarity, with microvilli along the apical surface and intercellular electron-dense adhesive junctions that resemble adherens junctions. E-cadherin expression is retained in the mesoderm of the Sna−/− embryos. These defects are strikingly similar to the gastrulation defects observed in snail-deficient Drosophila embryos, suggesting that the mechanism of repression of E-cadherin transcription by Snail family proteins may have been present in the metazoan ancestor of the arthropod and mammalian lineages.
The Notch-regulated ankyrin repeat protein (Nrarp) is a component of a negative feedback system that attenuates Notch pathway-mediated signaling. In vertebrates, the timing and spacing of formation of the mesodermal somites are controlled by a molecular oscillator termed the segmentation clock. Somites are also patterned along the rostral-caudal axis of the embryo. Here, we demonstrate that Nrarp-deficient embryos and mice exhibit genetic background-dependent defects of the axial skeleton. While progression of the segmentation clock occurred in Nrarp-deficient embryos, they exhibited altered rostrocaudal patterning of the somites. In Nrarp mutant embryos, the posterior somite compartment was expanded. These studies confirm an anticipated, but previously undocumented role for the Nrarp gene in vertebrate somite patterning and provide an example of the strong influence that genetic background plays on the phenotypes exhibited by mutant mice. genesis 50:366–374, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Notch pathway; negative feedback; rostrocaudal somite patterning