In Drosophila embryonic development, the Bicoid (Bcd) protein establishes positional information of downstream developmental genes like hunchback (hb), which has a strong anterior expression and a sharp on-off boundary in the mid-embryo. The role of Bcd cooperative binding in the positioning of the Hb pattern has been previously demonstrated. However, there are discrepancies in the reported results about the role of this mechanism in the sharp Hb border. Here, we determined the Hill coefficient (nH) required for Bcd to generate the sharp border of Hb in wild-type (WT) embryos. We found that an nH of approximately 6.3 (s.d. 1.4) and 10.8 (s.d. 4.0) is required to account for Hb sharpness at early and late cycle 14A, respectively. Additional mechanisms are possibly required because the high nH is likely unachievable for Bcd binding to the hb promoter. To test this idea, we determined the nH required to pattern the Hb profile of 15 embryos expressing an hb14F allele that is defective in self-activation and found nH to be 3.0 (s.d. 1.0). This result indicates that in WT embryos, the hb self-activation is important for Hb sharpness. Corroborating our results, we also found a progressive increase in the required value of nH spanning from 4.0 to 9.2 by determining this coefficient from averaged profiles of eight temporal classes at cycle 14A (T1 to T8). Our results indicate that there is a transition in the mechanisms responsible for the sharp Hb border during cycle 14A: in early stages of this cycle, Bcd cooperative binding is primarily responsible for Hb sharpness; in late cycle 14A, hb self-activation becomes the dominant mechanism.
Drosophila melanogaster; Bicoid; hunchback; cooperative binding; Hill coefficient; self-regulation
Respiratory epithelial cells are derived from cell progenitors in the foregut endoderm that subsequently differentiate into the distinct cell types lining the conducting and alveolar regions of the lung. To identify transcriptional mechanisms regulating differentiation and maintenance of respiratory epithelial cells, we conditionally deleted Foxm1 transcription factor from the conducting airways of the developing mouse lung. Conditional deletion of Foxm1 from Clara cells, controlled by the Scgb1a1 promoter, dramatically altered airway structure and caused peribronchial fibrosis, resulting in airway hyperreactivity in adult mice. Deletion of Foxm1 inhibited proliferation of Clara cells and disrupted the normal patterning of epithelial cell differentiation in the bronchioles, causing squamous and goblet cell metaplasia, and the loss of Clara and ciliated cells. Surprisingly, conducting airways of Foxm1-deficient mice contained highly differentiated cuboidal type II epithelial cells that are normally restricted to the alveoli. Lineage tracing studies showed that the ectopic alveolar type II cells in Foxm1-deficient airways were derived from Clara cells. Deletion of Foxm1 inhibited Sox2 and Scgb1a1, both of which are critical for differentiation and function of Clara cells. In co-transfection experiments, Foxm1 directly bound to and induced transcriptional activity of Scgb1a1 and Sox2 promoters. Foxm1 is required for differentiation and maintenance of epithelial cells lining conducting airways.
Foxm1; Clara cells; airway epithelium; type II cells; Sox2; airway development
Convergent extension (CE) is a conserved morphogenetic movement that drives axial lengthening of the primary body axis and depends on the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. In Drosophila epithelia, a polarised subcellular accumulation of PCP core components, such as Dishevelled (Dvl) protein, is associated with PCP function. Dvl has long been thought to accumulate in the mediolateral protrusions in Xenopus chordamesoderm cells undergoing CE. Here we present a quantitative analysis of Dvl intracellular localisation in Xenopus chordamesoderm cells. We find that, surprisingly, accumulations previously observed at mediolateral protrusions of chordamesodermal cells are not protrusion-specific but reflect yolk-free cytoplasm and are quantitatively matched by the distribution of the cytoplasm-filling lineage marker dextran. However, separating cell cortex-associated from bulk Dvl signal reveals a statistical enrichment of Dvl in notochord–somite boundary-(NSB)-directed protrusions, which is dependent upon NSB proximity. Dvl puncta were also observed, but only upon elevated overexpression. These puncta showed no statistically significant spatial bias, in contrast to the strongly posteriorly-enriched GFP-Dvl puncta previously reported in zebrafish. We propose that Dvl distribution is more subtle and dynamic than previously appreciated and that in vertebrate mesoderm it reflects processes other than protrusion as such.
•Bipolar enrichment of Dvl in Xenopus convergently extending mesoderm is non-specific.•Bulk Dvl co-localises with yolk-free-cytoplasm-filling Dextran.•Cortical Dvl shows monopolar enrichment in notochord–somite-boundary-directed protrusions.•Monopolar Dvl enrichment declines with distance from the NSB.•Dvl accumulation is not absolutely (at least not uniquely) coupled to protrusion.
Planar cell polarity; Dishevelled; Xenopus; Convergent extension; Localisation; Image analysis; QuimP
Radial glia of the mouse cerebral cortex emerge from neuroepithelial stem cells around embryonic day 11 and produce excitatory cortical neurons until a few days before birth. The molecular mechanisms that regulate the end of cortical neurogenesis remain largely unknown. Here we investigated if the Dicer-dependent microRNA (miRNA) pathway is involved. By electroporating a cre-recombinase expression vector into the cortex of E13.5 embryos carrying a conditional allele of Dicer1, we induced mosaic recombination causing Dicer1 deletion and reporter activation in a subset of radial glia. We analysed the long-term fates of their progeny. We found that mutant radial glia produced abnormally large numbers of Cux1-positive neurons, many of which populated the superficial cortical layers. Injections of the S-phase marker bromodeoxyuridine between postnatal days 3 and 14 showed that much of this population was generated postnatally. Our findings suggest a role for Dicer-dependent processes in limiting the timespan of cortical neurogenesis.
•Analysis of radial glia development in the absence of functional Dicer.•Loss of Dicer prolongs mouse cortical neurogenesis postnatally.•We found no defects in the onset of gliogenesis.
Dicer; microRNA; Neurogenesis; Telencephalon; Mouse
Disheveled (Dvl) is a key regulator of both the canonical Wnt and the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. Previous genetic studies in mice indicated that outflow tract (OFT) formation requires Dvl1 and 2, but it was unclear which pathway was involved and whether Dvl1/2-mediated signaling was required in the second heart field (SHF) or the cardiac neural crest (CNC) lineage, both of which are critical for OFT development. In this study, we used Dvl1/2 null mice and a set of Dvl2 BAC transgenes that function in a pathway-specific fashion to demonstrate that Dvl1/2-mediated PCP signaling is essential for OFT formation. Lineage-specific gene ablation further indicated that Dvl1/2 function is dispensable in the CNC, but required in the SHF for OFT lengthening to promote cardiac looping. Mutating the core PCP gene Vangl2 and non-canonical Wnt gene Wnt5a recapitulated the OFT morphogenesis defects observed in Dvl1/2 mutants. Consistent with genetic interaction studies suggesting that Wnt5a signals through the PCP pathway, Dvl1/2 and Wnt5a mutants display aberrant cell packing and defective actin polymerization and filopodia formation specifically in SHF cells in the caudal splanchnic mesoderm (SpM), where Wnt5a and Dvl2 are co-expressed specifically. Our results reveal a critical role of PCP signaling in the SHF during early OFT lengthening and cardiac looping and suggest that a Wnt5a→ Dvl PCP signaling cascade may regulate actin polymerization and protrusive cell behavior in the caudal SpM to promote SHF deployment, OFT lengthening and cardiac looping.
planar cell polarity; second heart field; outflow tract; heart development; morphogenesis
Anterior-posterior (AP) limb patterning is directed by sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling from the posteriorly located Zone of Polarizing Activity (ZPA). GLI3 and GLI2 are the transcriptional mediators generally utilized in SHH signaling, and each can function as an activator (A) and repressor (R). Although GLI3R has been suggested to be the primary effector of SHH signaling during limb AP patterning, a role for GLI3A or GLI2 has not been fully ruled out, nor has it been determined whether Gli3 plays distinct roles in limb development at different stages. By conditionally removing Gli3 in the limb at multiple different time points, we uncovered four Gli3-mediated functions in limb development that occur at distinct but partially over-lapping time windows; AP patterning of the proximal limb, AP patterning of the distal limb, regulation of digit number and bone differentiation. Furthermore, by removing Gli2 in Gli3 temporal conditional knock-outs, we uncovered an essential role for Gli2 in providing the remaining posterior limb patterning seen in Gli3 single mutants. To test whether GLIAs or GLIRs regulate different aspects of AP limb patterning and/or digit number, we utilized a knock-in allele in which GLI1, which functions solely as an activator, is expressed in place of the bifunctional GLI2 protein. Interestingly, we found that GLIAs contribute to AP patterning specifically in the posterior limb, whereas GLIRs predominantly regulate anterior patterning and digit number. Since GLI3 is a more effective repressor, our results explain why GLI3 is required only for anterior limb patterning and why GLI2 can compensate for GLI3A in posterior limb patterning. Taken together, our data suggest that establishment of a complete range of AP positional identities in the limb requires integration of the spatial distribution, timing, and dosage of GLI2 and GLI3 activators and repressors.
digit patterning; sonic hedgehog; polydactyly; Gli1
Egg activation is the series of events that must occur for a mature oocyte to become capable of supporting embryogenesis. These events include changes to the egg’s outer coverings, the resumption and completion of meiosis, the translation of new proteins, and the degradation of specific maternal mRNAs. While we know some of the molecules that direct the initial events of egg activation, it remains unclear how multiple pathways are coordinated to change the cellular state from mature oocyte to activated egg. Using a proteomic approach we have identified new candidates for the regulation and progression of egg activation. Reasoning that phosphorylation can simultaneously and rapidly modulate the activity of many proteins, we identified proteins that are post-translationally modified during the transition from oocyte to activated egg in Drosophila melanogaster. We find that at least 311 proteins change in phosphorylation state between mature oocytes and activated eggs. These proteins fall into various functional classes related to the events of egg activation including calcium binding, proteolysis, and protein translation. Our set of candidates includes genes already associated with egg activation, as well as many genes not previously studied during this developmental period. RNAi knockdown of a subset of these genes revealed a new gene, mrityu, necessary for embryonic development past the first mitosis. Thus, by identifying phospho-modulated proteins we have produced a focused candidate set for future genetic studies to test their roles in egg activation and the initiation of embryogenesis.
Egg activation; phosphorylation; proteomics
Cilia-generated fluid flow in an ‘organ of asymmetry’ is critical for establishing the left–right body axis in several vertebrate embryos. However, the cell biology underlying how motile cilia produce coordinated flow and asymmetric signals is not well defined. In the zebrafish organ of asymmetry—called Kupffer’s vesicle (KV)—ciliated cells are asymmetrically positioned along the anterior–posterior axis such that more cilia are placed in the anterior region. We previously demonstrated that Rho kinase 2b (Rock2b) is required for anteroposterior asymmetry and fluid flow in KV, but it remained unclear how the distribution of ciliated cells becomes asymmetric during KV development. Here, we identify a morphogenetic process we refer to as ‘KV remodeling’ that transforms initial symmetry in KV architecture into anteroposterior asymmetry. Live imaging of KV cells revealed region-specific cell shape changes that mediate tight packing of ciliated cells into the anterior pole. Mathematical modeling indicated that different interfacial tensions in anterior and posterior KV cells are involved in KV remodeling. Interfering with non-muscle myosin II (referred to as Myosin II) activity, which modulates cellular interfacial tensions and is regulated by Rock proteins, disrupted KV cell shape changes and the anteroposterior distribution of KV cilia. Similar defects were observed in Rock2b depleted embryos. Furthermore, inhibiting Myosin II at specific stages of KV development perturbed asymmetric flow and left–right asymmetry. These results indicate that regional cell shape changes control the development of anteroposterior asymmetry in KV, which is necessary to generate coordinated asymmetric fluid flow and left–right patterning of the embryo.
Left–right asymmetry; Kupffer’s vesicle; Cilia; Myosin II; Cell shape changes; Zebrafish
The bipotential gonad expresses genes associated with both the male and female pathways. Adoption of the male testicular fate is associated with the repression of many female genes including Wnt4. However, the importance of repression of Wnt4 to the establishment of male development was not previously determined. Deletion of either Fgf9 or Fgfr2 in an XY gonad resulted in up-regulation of Wnt4 and male-to-female sex reversal. We investigated whether the deletion if Wnt4 could rescue sex reversal in Fgf9 and Fgfr2 mutants. XY Fgf9/Wnt4 and Fgfr2/Wnt4 double mutants developed testes with male somatic and germ cells present, suggesting that the primary role of Fgf signaling is the repression of female-promoting genes. Thus, the decision to adopt the male fate is based not only on whether male genes, such as Sox9, are expressed, but also on the active repression of female genes, such as Wnt4. Because loss of Wnt4 results in the up-regulation of Fgf9, we also tested the possibility that derepression of Fgf9 was responsible for the aspects of male development observed in XX Wnt4 mutants. However, we found that the relationship between these two signaling factors is not symmetric: loss of Fgf9 in XX Wnt4−/− gonads does not rescue their partial female-to-male sex-reversal.
Sex determination; Bipotential; Testis; Ovary; Fgf9; Wnt4
The capacity for tissue and organ regeneration in humans is dwarfed by comparison to that of salamanders. Emerging evidence suggests that mechanisms learned from the early phase of salamander limb regeneration – wound healing, cellular dedifferentiation and blastemal formation – will reveal therapeutic approaches for tissue regeneration in humans. Here we describe a unique transcriptional fingerprint of regenerating limb tissue in the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) that is indicative of cellular reprogramming of differentiated cells to a germline-like state. Two genes that are required for self-renewal of germ cells in mice and flies, Piwi-like 1 (PL1) and Piwi-like 2 (PL2), are expressed in limb blastemal cells, the basal layer keratinocytes and the thickened apical epithelial cap in the wound epidermis in the regenerating limb. Depletion of PL1 and PL2 by morpholino oligonucleotides decreased cell proliferation and increased cell death in the blastema leading to a significant retardation of regeneration. Examination of key molecules that are known to be required for limb development or regeneration further revealed that FGF8 is transcriptionally downregulated in the presence of the morpholino oligos, indicating PL1 and PL2 might participate in FGF signaling during limb regeneration. Given the requirement for FGF signaling in limb development and regeneration, the results suggest that PL1 and PL2 function to establish a unique germline-like state that is associated with successful regeneration.
Axolotl; Limb Regeneration; Germline-like; Piwi-like
Tracheal agenesis/atresia (TA) is a rare but fatal congenital disease in which the breathing tube fails to grow. The etiology of this serious condition remains largely unknown. We found that Bmp signaling is prominently present in the anterior foregut where the tracheal primordium originates and targeted ablation of Bmp4 (Bmp4cko) resulted in a loss-of-trachea phenotype that closely resembles the Floyd type II pathology, the most common form of TA in humans. In Bmp4cko embryos, tracheal specification was not affected, however, its outgrowth was severely impaired due to reduced epithelial and mesenchymal proliferation. In agreement, we also observed significant reduction in the expression of Cyclin D1, a key cell cycle regulator associated with cellular proliferation. However, the proliferative effect of Bmp signaling appears to be independent of Wnt signaling. Interestingly, we found significantly reduced expression of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) in the Bmp4cko ventral foregut, suggesting that Bmp signaling promotes Erk phosphorylation which has been associated with cellular proliferation. This study provides the first evidence linking Bmp signaling to tracheal formation by regulating the proliferative response of the anterior ventral foregut. Our finding sheds light on human tracheal malformations by providing a novel mouse model implicating Bmp signaling, non-canonical Erk activation and cellular proliferation.
Spermatogenesis is a complex process that requires coordinated proliferation and differentiation of male germ cells. The molecular events that dictate this process are largely unknown, but are likely to involve highly regulated transcriptional control. In this study, we investigate the contribution of chromatin associated Sin3A in mouse germ cell lineage development. Genetic inactivation of Sin3A in the male germline leads to sterility that results from the early and penetrant apoptotic death observed in Sin3A-deleted germ cells, coincident with the reentry in mitosis. Sin3A-deleted testes exhibit a Sertoli-cell only phenotype, consistent with the absolute requirement for Sin3A in germ cells’ development and/or viability. Interestingly, transcripts analysis revealed that the expression program of Sertoli cells is altered upon inactivation of Sin3A in germ cells. These studies identified a central role for the mammalian Sin3-HDAC complex in the germ cell lineage, and point to an exquisite transcriptional crosstalk between germ cells and their niche to support fertility in mammals.
Sin3A; testis; germ cells; transcription; Sertoli cells; knock-out mouse
The Nodal signaling pathway is known from earlier work to be an essential mediator of oral ectoderm specification in the sea urchin embryo, and indirectly, of aboral ectoderm specification as well. Following expression of the Nodal ligand in the future oral ectoderm during cleavage, a sequence of regulatory gene activations occurs within this territory which depends directly or indirectly on nodal gene expression. Here we describe additional regulatory genes that contribute to the oral ectoderm regulatory state during specification in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, and show how their spatial expression changes dynamically during development. By means of system wide perturbation analyses we have significantly improved current knowledge of the epistatic relations amongst the regulatory genes of the oral ectoderm. From these studies there emerge diverse circuitries relating downstream regulatory genes directly and indirectly to Nodal signaling. A key intermediary regulator, the role of which had not previously been discerned, is the not gene. In addition to activating several genes earlier described as targets of Nodal signaling, the not gene product acts to repress other oral ectoderm genes, contributing crucially to the bilateral spatial organization of the embryonic oral ectoderm.
nodal signaling; gene regulatory network; oral ectoderm specification
Fibroblast growth factor (Fgf) and Wnt signaling are necessary for the intertwined processes of tail elongation, mesodermal development and somitogenesis. Here, we use pharmacological modifiers and time-resolved quantitative analysis of both nascent transcription and protein phosphorylation in the tailbud, to distinguish early effects of signal perturbation from later consequences related to cell fate changes. We demonstrate that Fgf activity elevates Wnt signaling by inhibiting transcription of the Wnt antagonists dkk1 and notum1a. PI3 kinase signaling also increases Wnt signaling via phosphorylation of Gsk3β. Conversely, Wnt can increase signaling within the Mapk branch of the Fgf pathway as Gskβ phosphorylation elevates phosphorylation levels of Erk. Despite the reciprocal positive regulation between Fgf and Wnt, the two pathways generally have opposing effects on the transcription of co-regulated genes. This opposing regulation of target genes may represent a rudimentary relationship that manifests as out-of-phase oscillation of Fgf and Wnt target genes in the mouse and chick tailbud. In summary, these data suggest that Fgf and Wnt signaling are tightly integrated to maintain proportional levels of activity in the zebrafish tailbud, and this balance is important for axis elongation, cell fate specification and somitogenesis.
Fgf signaling; Wnt signaling; paraxial mesoderm; tailbud; axis elongation
Hemicentin 1 (Hmcn1) and Hemicentin 2 (Hmcn2) belong to the fibulin family of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins that play pivotal roles during development and homeostasis of a variety of vertebrate tissues. Recently, we have shown that mutations in zebrafish Hmcn1, also called Fibulin 6, lead to massive fin blistering, similar to the defects caused by the Fraser syndrome gene Fras1. In contrast, the role of Hmcn2 during vertebrate development has thus far been uncharacterized. In zebrafish, hmcn2, like fibulin 1 (fbln1), another member of the fibulin family, is predominantly expressed in fin mesenchymal cells and developing somites, contrasting the strict epithelial expression of hmcn1. While antisense morpholino oligonucleotide (MO) – based knockdown of hmcn2 did not yield any discernable defects, hmcn2/fbln1 double knockdown fish displayed blistering in the trunk, pointing to an essential contribution of these proteins from mesodermal sources for proper epidermal-dermal junction formation. In contrast, and unlike hmcn1 mutants, epidermal-dermal junctions in the fin folds of hmcn2/fbln1 double knockdown fish were only moderately affected. Instead, they displayed impaired migration of fin mesenchymal cells into the fin folds, pointing to a crucial role of Hmcn2 and Fbln1 to remodel the ECM of the fin fold interepidermal space, which is a prerequisite for fibroblast ingrowth. TEM analyses suggest that this ECM remodeling occurs at the level of actinotrichia, the collageneous migration substrate of mesenchymal cells, and at the level of cross fibers, which resemble mammalian microfibers. This work provides first insights into the role of Hmcn2 during vertebrate development, identifying it as an evolutionary conserved protein that acts in functional redundancy with Fbln1C and/or Fbln1D isoforms to regulate tissue adhesion and cell migration, while extending current knowledge of the functions of vertebrate Fbln1.
zebrafish; blistering; epidermal-dermal junction; fin development; fin mesenchyme; cell migration; Hemicentin; Fibulin 1
Mechanisms that govern cell-fate specification within developing epithelia have been intensely investigated, with many of the critical intercellular signaling pathways identified, and well characterized. Much less is known, however, about downstream events that drive the morphological differentiation of these cells, once their fate has been determined. In the Drosophila wing-blade epithelium, two cell types predominate: vein and intervein. After cell proliferation is complete and adhesive cell-cell contacts have been refined, the vast majority of intervein cells adopt a hexagonal morphology. Within vein territories, however, cell-shape refinement results in trapezoids. Signaling events that differentiate between vein and intervein cell fates are well understood, but the genetic pathways underlying vein/intervein cyto-architectural differences remain largely undescribed. We show here that the Rap1 GTPase plays a critical role in determining cell-type-specific morphologies within the developing wing epithelium. Rap1, together with its effector Canoe, promotes symmetric distribution of the adhesion molecule DE-cadherin about the apicolateral circumference of epithelial cells. We provide evidence that in presumptive vein tissue Rap1/Canoe activity is down-regulated, resulting in adhesive asymmetries and non-hexagonal cell morphologies. In particular Canoe levels are reduced in vein cells as they morphologically differentiate. We also demonstrate that over-expression of Rap1 disrupts vein formation both in the developing epithelium and the adult wing blade. Therefore, vein/intervein morphological differences result, at least in part, from the patterned regulation of Rap1 activity.
Rap1; DE-cadherin; Canoe; Thickvein; Ras; wing vein
Zygote arrest (Zar) proteins are crucial for early embryonic development, but their molecular mechanism of action is unknown. The Translational Control Sequence (TCS) in the 3’ untranslated region (UTR) of the maternal mRNA, Wee1, mediates translational repression in immature Xenopus oocytes and translational activation in mature oocytes, but the protein that binds to the TCS and mediates translational control is not known. Here we show that Xenopus laevis Zar2 (encoded by Xzar2) binds to the TCS in maternal Wee1 mRNA and represses translation in immature oocytes. Using yeast 3 hybrid assays and electrophoretic mobility shift assays, Zar2 was shown to bind specifically to the TCS in the Wee1 3’UTR. RNA binding required the presence of Zn2+ and conserved cysteines in the C-terminal domain, suggesting that Zar2 contains a zinc finger. Consistent with regulating maternal mRNAs, Zar2 was present throughout oogenesis, and endogenous Zar2 co-immunoprecipitated endogenous Wee1 mRNA from immature oocytes, demonstrating the physiological significance of the protein-RNA interaction. Interestingly, Zar2 levels decreased during oocyte maturation. Dual luciferase reporter tethered assays showed that Zar2 repressed translation in immature oocytes. Translational repression was relieved during oocyte maturation and this coincided with degradation of Zar2 during maturation. This is the first report of a molecular function of zygote arrest proteins. These data show that Zar2 contains a zinc finger and is a trans-acting factor for the TCS in maternal mRNAs in immature Xenopus oocytes.
RNA-binding protein; zygote arrest; translational control; zinc finger
The Drosophila BMP, decapentaplegic (dpp), controls morphogenesis of the ventral adult head through expression limited to the lateral peripodial epithelium of the eye-antennal disc by a 3.5 kb enhancer in the 5’ end of the gene. We recovered a 15 bp deletion mutation within this enhancer that identified a homeotic (Hox) response element that is a direct target of labial and the homeotic cofactors homothorax and extradenticle. Expression of labial and homothorax are required for dpp expression in the peripodial epithelium, while the Hox gene Deformed represses labial in this location, thus limiting its expression and indirectly that of dpp to the lateral side of the disc. The expression of these homeodomain genes is in turn regulated by the dpp pathway, as dpp signaling is required for labial expression but represses homothorax. This Hox-BMP regulatory network is limited to the peripodial epithelium of the eye-antennal disc, yet is crucial to the morphogenesis of the head, which fate maps suggest arises primarily from the disc proper, not the peripodial epithelium. Thus Hox/BMP interactions in the peripodial epithelium of the eye-antennal disc contribute inductively to the shape of the external form of the adult Drosophila head.
decapentaplegic; labial; Deformed; homothorax; peripodial epithelium; adult head
Agr2 is a putative protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) initially identified as an estrogen-responsive gene in breast cancer cell lines. While Agr2 expression in breast cancer is positively correlated with estrogen receptor (ER) expression, it is upregulated in both hormone dependent and independent carcinomas. Several in vitro and xenograft studies have implicated Agr2 in different oncogenic features of breast cancer; however, the physiological role of Agr2 in normal mammary gland development remains to be defined. Agr2 expression is developmentally regulated in the mammary gland, with maximum expression during late pregnancy and lactation. Using a mammary gland specific knockout mouse model, we show that Agr2 facilitates normal lobuloalveolar development by regulating mammary epithelial cell proliferation; we found no effects on apoptosis in Agr2−/− mammary epithelial cells. Consequently, mammary glands of Agr2−/− females exhibit reduced expression of milk proteins, and by two weeks post-partum their pups are smaller in size. Utilizing a conditional mouse model, we show that Agr2 constitutive expression drives precocious lobuloalveolar development and increased milk protein expression in the virgin mammary gland. In vitro studies using knock down and overexpression strategies in estrogen receptor positive and negative mammary epithelial cell lines demonstrate a role for Agr2 in estradiol-induced cell proliferation. In conclusion, the estrogen-responsive Agr2, a candidate breast cancer oncogene, regulates epithelial cell proliferation and lobuloalveolar development in the mammary gland. The pro-proliferative effects of Agr2 may explain its actions in early tumorigenesis.
Agr2; mammary gland; development; proliferation; estrogen-responsive; knockout; overexpression
During development, facial branchiomotor (FBM) neurons, which innervate muscles in the vertebrate head, migrate caudally and radially within the brainstem to form a motor nucleus at the pial surface. Several components of the Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway, including the transmembrane protein Vangl2, regulate caudal migration of FBM neurons in zebrafish, but their roles in neuronal migration in mouse have not been investigated in detail. Therefore, we analyzed FBM neuron migration in mouse looptail (Lp) mutants, in which Vangl2 is inactivated. In Vangl2 Lp/+ and Vangl2 Lp/Lp embryos, FBM neurons failed to migrate caudally from rhombomere (r) 4 into r6. Although caudal migration was largely blocked, many FBM neurons underwent normal radial migration to the pial surface of the neural tube. In addition, hindbrain patterning and FBM progenitor specification were intact, and FBM neurons did not transfate into other non-migratory neuron types, indicating a specific effect on caudal migration.
Since loss-of-function in some zebrafish Wnt/PCP genes does not affect caudal migration of FBM neurons, we tested whether this was also the case in mouse. Embryos null for Ptk7, a regulator of PCP signaling, had severe defects in caudal migration of FBM neurons. However, FBM neurons migrated normally in Dishevelled (Dvl) 1/2 double mutants, and in zebrafish embryos with disrupted Dvl signaling, suggesting that Dvl function is essentially dispensable for FBM neuron caudal migration. Consistent with this, loss of Dvl2 function in Vangl2 Lp/+ embryos did not exacerbate the Vangl2 Lp/+ neuronal migration phenotype. These data indicate that caudal migration of FBM neurons is regulated by multiple components of the Wnt/PCP pathway, but, importantly, may not require Dishevelled function. Interestingly, genetic-interaction experiments suggest that rostral FBM neuron migration, which is normally suppressed, depends upon Dvl function.
Facial branchiomotor neuron migration; Planar Cell Polarity Signaling; Van gogh-like 2; Disheveled; Protein Tyrosine Kinase 7; Looptail
Cytokinesis, the final stage of cell division, bisects the cytoplasm into two daughter cells. In mitotic cells, this process depends on the activity of non-muscle myosin II (NMII), a family of actin-binding motor-proteins that participate in the formation of the cleavage furrow. The relevance of NMII for meiotic cell division, however, is poorly understood. The NMII family consists of three members, NMIIA, NMIIB, and NMIIC, containing different myosin heavy chains (MYH9, MYH10, and MYH14, respectively). We find that a single non-muscle myosin II, NMIIB, is required for meiotic cytokinesis in male but not female mice. Specifically, NMIIB-deficient spermatocytes exhibit cytokinetic failure in meiosis I, resulting in bi-nucleated secondary spermatocytes. Additionally, cytokinetic failure at meiosis II gives rise to bi-nucleated or even tetra-nucleated spermatids. These multi-nucleated spermatids fail to undergo normal differentiation, leading to male infertility. In spite of the presence of multiple non-muscle myosin II isoforms, we demonstrate that a single member, NMIIB, plays an essential and non-redundant role in cytokinesis during meiotic cell divisions of the male germline.
Spermatogenesis; Meiosis; Cytokinesis; NMIIB; MYH10; Mouse
Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling to the epithelium and mesenchyme mediated by FGF10 and FGF9, respectively, controls cecal formation during embryonic development. In particular, mesenchymal FGF10 signals to the epithelium via FGFR2b to induce epithelial cecal progenitor cell proliferation. Yet the precise upstream mechanisms controlling mesenchymal FGF10 signaling are unknown. Complete deletion of Fgf9 as well as of Pitx2, a gene encoding a homeobox transcription factor, both lead to cecal agenesis. Herein, we used mouse genetic approaches to determine the precise contribution of the epithelium and/or mesenchyme tissue compartments in this process. Using tissue compartment specific Fgf9 versus Pitx2 loss of function approaches in the gut epithelium and/or mesenchyme, we determined that FGF9 signals to the mesenchyme via Pitx2 to induce mesenchymal Fgf10 expression, which in turn leads to epithelial cecal bud formation.
Pitx2; Fgf9; Fgf10; cecum; agenesis; development
Notch signaling is among the oldest of known Metazoan signaling pathways and is used in a multitude of developmental contexts to effect cellular differentiation, specification and the maintenance of stem cell state. Here we report the isolation and expression of the canonical Notch signaling pathway in the early branching metazoan Nematostella vectensis (Anthozoa, Cnidaria) during embryonic and larval development. We have used pharmacological treatment, morpholino knockdown, and dominant negative misexpression experiments to demonstrate that Notch signaling acts to mediate cnidogenesis, the development of cnidarian-specific neural effecter cells. Notch signaling often results in the transcriptional activation of NvHes genes, a conserved family of bHLH transcription factors. A loss of Notch signaling through use of pharmacological inhibition or knock-down of the Notch effecter gene Suppressor of Hairless Su(H) similarly results in a loss of cnidocyte cell fate. We also provide evidence that Notch signaling is responsible for certain aspects of neurogenesis in developing N. vectensis planula in which disruption of Notch cleavage via the pharmacological agent DAPT results in increased expression of neural marker genes in vivo. This data suggests that Notch signaling acting on components of the developing nervous system is an ancient role of this pathway. The shared requirement of Notch signaling for the development of both cnidocytes and neurons further supports the hypothesis that cnidocytes and neurons share common origins as multifunctional sensory-effecter cells.
cnidarian; notch evolution; evo devo; neurogenesis; cnidogenesis
The organization of the embryonic neural plate requires coordination of multiple signal transduction pathways, including fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), and WNTs. Many studies have suggested that a critical component of this process is the patterning of posterior neural tissues by an FGF-caudal signaling cascade. Here, we have identified a novel player, Dazap2, and show that it is required in vivo for posterior neural fate. Loss of Dazap2 in embryos resulted in diminished expression of hoxb9 with a concurrent increase in the anterior marker otx2. Furthermore, we found that Dazap2 is required for FGF dependent posterior patterning; surprisingly, this is independent of Cdx activity. Furthermore, in contrast to FGF activity, Dazap2 induction of hoxb9 is not blocked by loss of canonical Wnt signaling. Functionally, we found that increasing Dazap2 levels alters neural patterning and induces posterior neural markers. This activity overcomes the anteriorizing effects of noggin, and is downstream of FGF receptor activation. Our results strongly suggest that Dazap2 is a novel and essential branch of FGF-induced neural patterning.
Dazap2; Prtb; Posterior neural patterning; FGF; Cdx4; Noggin; Wnt Short title: Dazap2 in FGF-mediated neural patterning
Wnt and Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signals are known to pattern the somite into dermomyotome, myotome and sclerotomal cell fates. By employing explants of presomitic mesoderm cultured with constant levels of Wnt3a conditioned medium and increasing levels of Shh, we found that differing levels of Shh signaling elicit differing responses from somitic cells: the lowest level of Shh signaling allows dermomyotomal gene expression, intermediate levels induce loss of dermomyotomal markers and activation of myogenic differentiation, and higher levels induce loss of myotomal markers and activation of sclerotomal gene expression. In addition, we have found that in the presence of high levels of Wnt signaling, instead of inducing sclerotomal markers, Shh signals act to maintain the expression of dermomyotomal and myotomal markers. One of the sclerotomal genes induced by high levels of Shh signaling is Nkx3.2. Forced expression of Nkx3.2 blocks somitic expression of the dermomyotomal marker Pax3 both in vitro and in vivo. Conversely, forced expression of Pax3 in somites can block Shh-mediated induction of sclerotomal gene expression and chondrocyte differentiation in vitro. Thus we propose that varying levels of Shh signals act in a morphogen-like manner to elicit differing responses from somitic cells, and that Pax3 and Nkx3.2 set up mutually repressing cell fates that promote either dermomyotome/myotome or sclerotome differentiation, respectively.
Shh; Nkx3.2; Pax3; somite