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author:("rosier, Moira")
1.  The Formation of Endoderm-Derived Taste Sensory Organs Requires a Pax9-Dependent Expansion of Embryonic Taste Bud Progenitor Cells 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(10):e1004709.
In mammals, taste buds develop in different regions of the oral cavity. Small epithelial protrusions form fungiform papillae on the ectoderm-derived dorsum of the tongue and contain one or few taste buds, while taste buds in the soft palate develop without distinct papilla structures. In contrast, the endoderm-derived circumvallate and foliate papillae located at the back of the tongue contain a large number of taste buds. These taste buds cluster in deep epithelial trenches, which are generated by intercalating a period of epithelial growth between initial placode formation and conversion of epithelial cells into sensory cells. How epithelial trench formation is genetically regulated during development is largely unknown. Here we show that Pax9 acts upstream of Pax1 and Sox9 in the expanding taste progenitor field of the mouse circumvallate papilla. While a reduced number of taste buds develop in a growth-retarded circumvallate papilla of Pax1 mutant mice, its development arrests completely in Pax9-deficient mice. In addition, the Pax9 mutant circumvallate papilla trenches lack expression of K8 and Prox1 in the taste bud progenitor cells, and gradually differentiate into an epidermal-like epithelium. We also demonstrate that taste placodes of the soft palate develop through a Pax9-dependent induction. Unexpectedly, Pax9 is dispensable for patterning, morphogenesis and maintenance of taste buds that develop in ectoderm-derived fungiform papillae. Collectively, our data reveal an endoderm-specific developmental program for the formation of taste buds and their associated papilla structures. In this pathway, Pax9 is essential to generate a pool of taste bud progenitors and to maintain their competence towards prosensory cell fate induction.
Author Summary
Gustatory perception is an evolutionary ancient sense, and the ability to discriminate toxic and digestible substances is vitally important for all organisms. In mammals, taste perception occurs in taste buds, groups of sensory cells that are housed in various types of taste papillae in the oral cavity. Little is known about the genetic and developmental programs that underlie the different architectures of these papillae. Using mouse models, we identified the transcription factor Pax9 as a major determinant for the development of endoderm-derived taste papillae, which develop in different locations in the back of the oral cavity. In these papillae, Pax9 regulates the expansion of the taste progenitor field, maintains the competence of these progenitors to interact with afferent nerve fibers of the glossopharyngeal nerve, and prevents their differentiation towards epidermal-like epithelial cells. In contrast, Pax9 is not required for the development of ectoderm-derived taste papillae that are distributed over the dorsum of the tongue. Our data reveal that mammals have evolved a specific developmental program to generate taste buds and associated papilla structures in different parts of the oral cavity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004709
PMCID: PMC4191947  PMID: 25299669
2.  Abnormal retinal development associated with FRMD7 mutations 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(15):4086-4093.
Idiopathic infantile nystagmus (IIN) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder, often associated with FRMD7 mutations. As the appearance of the retina is reported to be normal based on conventional fundus photography, IIN is postulated to arise from abnormal cortical development. To determine whether the afferent visual system is involved in FRMD7 mutations, we performed in situ hybridization studies in human embryonic and fetal stages (35 days post-ovulation to 9 weeks post-conception). We show a dynamic retinal expression pattern of FRMD7 during development. We observe expression within the outer neuroblastic layer, then in the inner neuroblastic layer and at 9 weeks post-conception a bilaminar expression pattern. Expression was also noted within the developing optic stalk and optic disk. We identified a large cohort of IIN patients (n = 100), and performed sequence analysis which revealed 45 patients with FRMD7 mutations. Patients with FRMD7 mutations underwent detailed retinal imaging studies using ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography. The tomograms were compared with a control cohort (n = 60). The foveal pit was significantly shallower in FRMD7 patients (P < 0.0001). The optic nerve head morphology was abnormal with significantly decreased optic disk area, retinal nerve fiber layer thickness, cup area and cup depth in FRMD7 patients (P < 0.0001). This study shows for the first time that abnormal afferent system development is associated with FRMD7 mutations and could be an important etiological factor in the development of nystagmus.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu122
PMCID: PMC4082370  PMID: 24688117
3.  The Tissue-Specific RNA Binding Protein T-STAR Controls Regional Splicing Patterns of Neurexin Pre-mRNAs in the Brain 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003474.
The RNA binding protein T-STAR was created following a gene triplication 520–610 million years ago, which also produced its two parologs Sam68 and SLM-1. Here we have created a T-STAR null mouse to identify the endogenous functions of this RNA binding protein. Mice null for T-STAR developed normally and were fertile, surprisingly, given the high expression of T-STAR in the testis and the brain, and the known infertility and pleiotropic defects of Sam68 null mice. Using a transcriptome-wide search for splicing targets in the adult brain, we identified T-STAR protein as a potent splicing repressor of the alternatively spliced segment 4 (AS4) exons from each of the Neurexin1-3 genes, and exon 23 of the Stxbp5l gene. T-STAR protein was most highly concentrated in forebrain-derived structures like the hippocampus, which also showed maximal Neurexin1-3 AS4 splicing repression. In the absence of endogenous T-STAR protein, Nrxn1-3 AS4 splicing repression dramatically decreased, despite physiological co-expression of Sam68. In transfected cells Neurexin3 AS4 alternative splicing was regulated by either T-STAR or Sam68 proteins. In contrast, Neurexin2 AS4 splicing was only regulated by T-STAR, through a UWAA-rich response element immediately downstream of the regulated exon conserved since the radiation of bony vertebrates. The AS4 exons in the Nrxn1 and Nrxn3 genes were also associated with distinct patterns of conserved UWAA repeats. Consistent with an ancient mechanism of splicing control, human T-STAR protein was able to repress splicing inclusion of the zebrafish Nrxn3 AS4 exon. Although Neurexin1-3 and Stxbp5l encode critical synaptic proteins, T-STAR null mice had no detectable spatial memory deficits, despite an almost complete absence of AS4 splicing repression in the hippocampus. Our work identifies T-STAR as an ancient and potent tissue-specific splicing regulator that uses a concentration-dependent mechanism to co-ordinately regulate regional splicing patterns of the Neurexin1-3 AS4 exons in the mouse brain.
Author Summary
Alternative splicing plays a key role in animal development and is largely controlled by the expression of RNA binding proteins. Most RNA binding proteins exist as families of sister proteins called paralogs, which result from gene amplification, including T-STAR, which is closely related to Sam68 and SLM-1. T-STAR, Sam68, and SLM-1 usually behave identically in splicing control in transfected cells. Here we report the physiological functions of T-STAR protein by knocking its parent gene out in the mouse. Surprisingly we observed no defects in germ cell maturation without T-STAR protein, an unexpected result given T-STAR protein is mainly expressed in the testis and its paralog Sam68 is essential for male fertility. Instead, we find T-STAR controls a panel of splicing targets that encode important synaptic proteins. T-STAR acts as a potent splicing repressor to establish regional splicing patterns of these target exons in the brain. Forebrain-derived structures like the hippocampus strongly express T-STAR protein to repress these target exons. Some T-STAR regulated splicing targets overlap with Sam68, but T-STAR also regulates its own distinct targets. Comparative genomic analyses are consistent with an ancient mechanism of splicing control by T-STAR that has been conserved since the radiation of bony vertebrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003474
PMCID: PMC3636136  PMID: 23637638
4.  The clinical and molecular genetic features of idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus 
Brain  2011;134(3):892-902.
Periodic alternating nystagmus consists of involuntary oscillations of the eyes with cyclical changes of nystagmus direction. It can occur during infancy (e.g. idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus) or later in life. Acquired forms are often associated with cerebellar dysfunction arising due to instability of the optokinetic-vestibular systems. Idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus can be familial or occur in isolation; however, very little is known about the clinical characteristics, genetic aetiology and neural substrates involved. Five loci (NYS1-5) have been identified for idiopathic infantile nystagmus; three are autosomal (NYS2, NYS3 and NYS4) and two are X-chromosomal (NYS1 and NYS5). We previously identified the FRMD7 gene on chromosome Xq26 (NYS1 locus); mutations of FRMD7 are causative of idiopathic infantile nystagmus influencing neuronal outgrowth and development. It is unclear whether the periodic alternating nystagmus phenotype is linked to NYS1, NYS5 (Xp11.4-p11.3) or a separate locus. From a cohort of 31 X-linked families and 14 singletons (70 patients) with idiopathic infantile nystagmus we identified 10 families and one singleton (21 patients) with periodic alternating nystagmus of which we describe clinical phenotype, genetic aetiology and neural substrates involved. Periodic alternating nystagmus was not detected clinically but only on eye movement recordings. The cycle duration varied from 90 to 280 s. Optokinetic reflex was not detectable horizontally. Mutations of the FRMD7 gene were found in all 10 families and the singleton (including three novel mutations). Periodic alternating nystagmus was predominantly associated with missense mutations within the FERM domain. There was significant sibship clustering of the phenotype although in some families not all affected members had periodic alternating nystagmus. In situ hybridization studies during mid-late human embryonic stages in normal tissue showed restricted FRMD7 expression in neuronal tissue with strong hybridization signals within the afferent arms of the vestibulo-ocular reflex consisting of the otic vesicle, cranial nerve VIII and vestibular ganglia. Similarly within the afferent arm of the optokinetic reflex we showed expression in the developing neural retina and ventricular zone of the optic stalk. Strong FRMD7 expression was seen in rhombomeres 1 to 4, which give rise to the cerebellum and the common integrator site for both these reflexes (vestibular nuclei). Based on the expression and phenotypic data, we hypothesize that periodic alternating nystagmus arises from instability of the optokinetic-vestibular systems. This study shows for the first time that mutations in FRMD7 can cause idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus and may affect neuronal circuits that have been implicated in acquired forms.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq373
PMCID: PMC4125620  PMID: 21303855
periodic alternating nystagmus; FRMD7; optokinetic reflex; vestibulo-ocular reflex; in situ hybridization
5.  Expression of PLA2G6 in human fetal development: Implications for infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy 
Brain research bulletin  2010;83(6):374-379.
Mutations in PLA2G6, which encodes calcium-independent phospholipase A2 group VIA (iPLA2-VIA), underlie the autosomal recessive disorder infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD). INAD typically presents in the first year of life, and leads to optic atrophy and psychomotor regression. We have examined PLA2G6 expression in early human embryonic development by in situ hybridization. At Carnegie Stage (CS) 19 (approximately 7 post conception weeks [PCW]), strong expression is evident in the ventricular zone (VZ) of midbrain and forebrain suggestive of expression in neural stem and progenitor cells. At CS23 (8 PCW) expression is also detectable in the VZ of the hindbrain and the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the developing neocortex, ganglionic eminences and diencephalon. By 9 PCW strong expression in the post-mitotic cells of the cortical plate can be seen in the developing neocortex. In the eye, expression is seen in the lens and retina at all stages examined. PLA2G6 expression is also evident in the alar plate of the spinal cord, dorsal root ganglia, the retina and lens in the eye and and several non-neuronal tissues, including developing bones, lung, kidney and gut. These findings suggest a role for PLA2G6 in neuronal proliferation throughout the developing brain and in maturing neurons in the cortical plate and hindbrain. Although widespread PLA2G6 expression is detected in neuronal tissues, the pattern shows dynamic changes with time and indicates that INAD pathogenesis may begin prior to birth.
doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2010.08.011
PMCID: PMC2975838  PMID: 20813170
PLA2G6; INAD; neurodegeneration; development; in-situ hybridization
6.  Human CHN1 mutations hyperactivate α2-chimaerin and cause Duane’s retraction syndrome 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2008;321(5890):839-843.
The RacGAP molecule α2-chimaerin is implicated in neuronal signaling pathways required for precise guidance of developing corticospinal axons. We now demonstrate that a variant of Duane’s retraction syndrome, a congenital eye movement disorder in which affected individuals show aberrant development of axon projections to the extraocular muscles, can result from gain-of-function heterozygous missense mutations in CHN1 that increase α2-chimaerin RacGAP activity in vitro. A subset of mutations enhances α2-chimaerin membrane translocation and/or α2-chimaerin’s previously unrecognized ability to form a complex with itself. In ovo expression of mutant CHN1 alters the development of ocular motor axons. These data demonstrate that human CHN1 mutations can hyperactivate α2-chimaerin and result in aberrant cranial motor neuron development.
doi:10.1126/science.1156121
PMCID: PMC2593867  PMID: 18653847

Results 1-6 (6)