The editors of BMC Developmental Biology would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 12 (2012).
In the male germ line of Drosophila chromatin remains decondensed and highly transcribed during meiotic prophase until it is rapidly compacted. A large proportion of the cell cycle-regulated histone H3.1 is replaced by H3.3, a histone variant encoded outside the histone repeat cluster and not subject to cell cycle controlled expression.
We investigated histone modification patterns in testes of D. melanogaster and D. hydei. In somatic cells of the testis envelope and in germ cells these modification patterns differ from those typically seen in eu- and heterochromatin of other somatic cells. During the meiotic prophase some modifications expected in active chromatin are not found or are found at low level. The absence of H4K16ac suggests that dosage compensation does not take place. Certain histone modifications correspond to either the cell cycle-regulated histone H3.1 or to the testis-specific variant H3.3. In spermatogonia we found H3K9 methylation in cytoplasmic histones, most likely corresponding to the H3.3 histone variant. Most histone modifications persist throughout the meiotic divisions. The majority of modifications persist until the early spermatid nuclei, and only a minority further persist until the final chromatin compaction stages before individualization of the spermatozoa.
Histone modification patterns in the male germ line differ from expected patterns. They are consistent with an absence of dosage compensation of the X chromosome during the male meiotic prophase. The cell cycle-regulated histone variant H3.1 and H3.3, expressed throughout the cell cycle, also vary in their modification patterns. Postmeiotically, we observed a highly complex pattern of the histone modifications until late spermatid nuclear elongation stages. This may be in part due to postmeiotic transcription and in part to differential histone replacement during chromatin condensation.
Thyroid hormones regulate growth and development. However, the molecular mechanisms by which thyroid hormone regulates cell structural development are not fully understood. The mammalian cochlea is an intriguing system to examine these mechanisms, as cellular structure plays a key role in tissue development, and thyroid hormone is required for the maturation of the cochlea in the first postnatal week.
In hypothyroid conditions, we found disruptions in sensory outer hair cell morphology and fewer microtubules in non-sensory supporting pillar cells. To test the functional consequences of these cytoskeletal defects on cell mechanics, we combined atomic force microscopy with live cell imaging. Hypothyroidism stiffened outer hair cells and supporting pillar cells, but pillar cells ultimately showed reduced cell stiffness, in part from a lack of microtubules. Analyses of changes in transcription and protein phosphorylation suggest that hypothyroidism prolonged expression of fibroblast growth factor receptors, and decreased phosphorylated Cofilin.
These findings demonstrate that thyroid hormones may be involved in coordinating the processes that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics and suggest that manipulating thyroid hormone sensitivity might provide insight into the relationship between cytoskeletal formation and developing cell mechanical properties.
Young’s modulus; Hair cell; Pillar cell; Hypothyroid; Cell mechanics
Insulin and its plasma membrane receptor constitute an ancient response system critical to cell growth and differentiation. Studies using intact Rana pipiens oocytes have shown that insulin can act at receptors on the oocyte surface to initiate resumption of the first meiotic division. We have reexamined the insulin-induced cascade of electrical and ion transport-related plasma membrane events using both oocytes and intact plasma membranes in order to characterize the insulin receptor-steroid response system associated with the meiotic divisions.
[125I]Insulin binding (Kd = 54 ± 6 nM) at the oocyte plasma membrane activates membrane serine protease(s), followed by the loss of low affinity ouabain binding sites, with a concomitant 3–4 fold increase in high affinity ouabain binding sites. The changes in protease activity and ouabain binding are associated with increased Na+/Ca2+ exchange, increased endocytosis, decreased Na+ conductance resulting in membrane hyperpolarization, increased 2-deoxy-D-glucose uptake and a sustained elevation of intracellular pH (pHi). Hyperpolarization is largely due to Na+-channel inactivation and is the main driving force for glucose uptake by the oocyte via Na+/glucose cotransport. The Na+ sym- and antiporter systems are driven by the Na+ free energy gradient generated by Na+/K+-ATPase. Shifts in α and/or β Na+-pump subunits to caveolar (lipid raft) membrane regions may activate Na/K-ATPase and contribute to the Na+ free energy gradient and the increase in both Na+/glucose co-transport and pHi.
Under physiological conditions, resumption of meiosis results from the concerted action of insulin and progesterone at the cell membrane. Insulin inactivates Na+ channels and mobilizes fully functional Na+-pumps, generating a Na+ free energy gradient which serves as the energy source for several membrane anti- and symporter systems.
Insulin; Progesterone; Meiosis; Oocyte; Ouabain; Na/K-ATPase; Protease
The members of the protein kinase C (PKC) family consist of serine/threonine kinases classified according to their regulatory domain. Those that belong to the novel PKC subfamily, such as PKCδ, are dependent on diacylglycerol but not Calcium when considering their catalytic activity. Although several studies have shown the importance of PKCδ in different cellular events in health and disease, the overall in vivo distribution of this PKC isoform during development is still lacking. Through Lac Z and antibody staining procedures, we show here the in vivo expression of PKCδ during mouse embryogenesis.
Ganglia were the domains with most prominent expression of PKCδ in most of the stages analysed, although PKCδ could also be detected in heart and somites at earlier stages, and cartilage primordium and skin among other sites in older embryos.
The strong expression of PKCδ in ganglia during murine development shown in this study suggests a significant role of this isoform as well as redundancy with other PKCs within the nervous system, since PKCδ deficient mice develop normally.
Novel protein kinase C; PKC delta; Mouse embryogenesis; Lac Z; Ganglia
Group B Sox domain transcription factors play important roles in metazoan central nervous system development. They are, however, difficult to study as mutations often have pleiotropic effects and other Sox family members can mask phenotypes due to functional compensation. In Drosophila melanogaster, the Sox gene Dichaete is dynamically expressed in the embryonic CNS, where it is known to have functional roles in neuroblasts and the ventral midline. In this study, we use inducible dominant negative proteins in combination with ChIP, immunohistochemistry and genome-wide expression profiling to further dissect the role of Dichaete in these two tissues.
We generated two dominant negative Dichaete constructs, one lacking a DNA binding domain and the other fused to the Engrailed transcriptional repressor domain. We expressed these tissue-specifically in the midline and in neuroblasts using the UAS/GAL4 system, validating their use at the phenotypic level and with known target genes. Using ChIP and immunohistochemistry, we identified two new likely direct Dichaete target genes, commisureless in the midline and asense in the neuroectoderm. We performed genome-wide expression profiling in stage 8–9 embryos, identifying almost a thousand potential tissue-specific Dichaete targets, with half of these genes showing evidence of Dichaete binding in vivo. These include a number of genes with known roles in CNS development, including several components of the Notch, Wnt and EGFR signalling pathways.
As well as identifying commisureless as a target, our data indicate that Dichaete helps establish its expression during early midline development but has less effect on its established later expression, highlighting Dichaete action on tissue specific enhancers. An analysis of the broader range of candidate Dichaete targets indicates that Dichaete plays diverse roles in CNS development, with the 500 or so Dichaete-bound putative targets including a number of transcription factors, signalling pathway components and terminal differentiation genes. In the early neurectoderm we implicate Dichaete in the lateral inhibition pathway and show that Dichaete acts to repress the proneural gene asense. Our analysis also reveals that dominant negatives cause off-target effects, highlighting the need to use other experimental data for validating findings from dominant negative studies.
Sox; Dichaete; Drosophila; CNS; Dominant-negative; Genomics
Members of the family Syngnathidae share a unique reproductive mode termed male pregnancy. Males carry eggs in specialised brooding structures for several weeks and release free-swimming offspring. Here we describe a systematic investigation of pre-release development in syngnathid fishes, reviewing available data for 17 species distributed across the family. This work is complemented by in-depth examinations of the straight-nosed pipefish Nerophis ophidion, the black-striped pipefish Syngnathus abaster, and the potbellied seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis.
We propose a standardised classification of early syngnathid development that extends from the activation of the egg to the release of newborn. The classification consists of four developmental periods – early embryogenesis, eye development, snout formation, and juvenile – which are further divided into 11 stages. Stages are characterised by morphological traits that are easily visible in live and preserved specimens using incident-light microscopy.
Our classification is derived from examinations of species representing the full range of brooding-structure complexity found in the Syngnathidae, including tail-brooding as well as trunk-brooding species, which represent independent evolutionary lineages. We chose conspicuous common traits as diagnostic features of stages to allow for rapid and consistent staging of embryos and larvae across the entire family. In view of the growing interest in the biology of the Syngnathidae, we believe that the classification proposed here will prove useful for a wide range of studies on the unique reproductive biology of these male-brooding fish.
Developmental stage; Embryo; Hippocampus; Larva; Nerophis; Syngnathus
Magnetic resonance imaging is a noninvasive method of evaluating embryonic development. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), based on the directional diffusivity of water molecules, is an established method of evaluating tissue structure. Yet embryonic motion degrades the in vivo acquisition of long-duration DTI. We used a dual-cooling technique to avoid motion artifact and aimed to investigate whether DTI can be used to monitor chick embryonic skeletal muscle development in ovo, and to investigate the correlation between quantitative DTI parameters fractional anisotropy (FA) and fiber length and quantitative histologic parameters fiber area percentage (FiberArea%) and limb length.
From 84 normally developing chick embryos, 5 were randomly chosen each day from incubation days 5 to 18 and scanned using 3.0 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging. A dual-cooling technique is used before and during imaging. Eggs were cracked for making histological specimen after imaging. 3 eggs were serially imaged from days 5 to 18. We show that skeletal muscle fibers can be tracked in hind limb in DTI beginning with incubation day 8. Our data shows a good positive correlation between quantitative DTI and histologic parameters (FA vs FiberArea%: r= 0.943, p<0.0001; Fiber_length vs Limb_length: r=0.974, p<0.0001). The result of tracked fibers in DTI during incubation corresponds to the development of chick embryonic skeletal muscle as reported in the literature.
Diffusion tensor imaging can provide a noninvasive means of evaluating skeletal muscle development in ovo.
Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion tensor imaging; Skeletal muscle; Chick embryo
Genetic studies in mouse have demonstrated the crucial function of PAX4 in pancreatic cell differentiation. This transcription factor specifies β- and δ-cell fate at the expense of α-cell identity by repressing Arx gene expression and ectopic expression of PAX4 in α-cells is sufficient to convert them into β-cells. Surprisingly, no Pax4 orthologous gene can be found in chicken and Xenopus tropicalis raising the question of the function of pax4 gene in lower vertebrates such as in fish. In the present study, we have analyzed the expression and the function of the orthologous pax4 gene in zebrafish.
pax4 gene is transiently expressed in the pancreas of zebrafish embryos and is mostly restricted to endocrine precursors as well as to some differentiating δ- and ε-cells but was not detected in differentiating β-cells. pax4 knock-down in zebrafish embryos caused a significant increase in α-cells number while having no apparent effect on β- and δ-cell differentiation. This rise of α-cells is due to an up-regulation of the Arx transcription factor. Conversely, knock-down of arx caused to a complete loss of α-cells and a concomitant increase of pax4 expression but had no effect on the number of β- and δ-cells. In addition to the mutual repression between Arx and Pax4, these two transcription factors negatively regulate the transcription of their own gene. Interestingly, disruption of pax4 RNA splicing or of arx RNA splicing by morpholinos targeting exon-intron junction sites caused a blockage of the altered transcripts in cell nuclei allowing an easy characterization of the arx- and pax4-deficient cells. Such analyses demonstrated that arx knock-down in zebrafish does not lead to a switch of cell fate, as reported in mouse, but rather blocks the cells in their differentiation process towards α-cells.
In zebrafish, pax4 is not required for the generation of the first β- and δ-cells deriving from the dorsal pancreatic bud, unlike its crucial role in the differentiation of these cell types in mouse. On the other hand, the mutual repression between Arx and Pax4 is observed in both mouse and zebrafish. These data suggests that the main original function of Pax4 during vertebrate evolution was to modulate the number of pancreatic α-cells and its role in β-cells differentiation appeared later in vertebrate evolution.
Insulin; Glucagon; Pancreas; pax4; Arx; mRNA export; Development; Zebrafish
In mammals, R-spondin (Rspo), an activator of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, has been shown to be involved in ovarian differentiation. However, the role of the Rspo/Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway in fish gonads is still unknown.
In the present study, full-length cDNAs of Rspo1, 2 and 3 were cloned from the gonads of medaka (Oryzias latipes). The deduced amino acid sequences of mRspo1-3 were shown to have a similar structural organization. Phylogenetic analysis showed that Rspo1, 2 and 3 were specifically clustered into three distinct clads. Tissue distribution revealed that three Rspo genes were abundantly expressed in the brain and ovary. Real-time PCR analysis around hatching (S33-5dah) demonstrated that three Rspo genes were specifically enhanced in female gonads from S38. In situ hybridization (ISH) analysis demonstrated that three Rspo genes were expressed in the germ cell in ovary, but not in testis. Fluorescence multi-color ISH showed that Rspo1 was expressed in both somatic cells and germ cells at 10dah. Exposure to ethinylestradiol (EE2) in XY individuals for one week dramatically enhanced the expression of three Rspo genes both at 0dah and in adulthood.
These results suggest that the Rspo-activating signaling pathway is involved in the ovarian differentiation and maintenance in medaka.
Rspo1, 2, 3; Molecular cloning; Expression profiles; Ovarian differentiation
The proper balance of autophagy, a lysosome-mediated degradation process, is indispensable for oogenesis in Drosophila. We recently demonstrated that egg development depends on autophagy in the somatic follicle cells (FC), but not in the germline cells (GCs). However, the lack of autophagy only affects oogenesis when FCs are autophagy-deficient but GCs are wild type, indicating that a dysfunctional signaling between soma and germline may be responsible for the oogenesis defects. Thus, autophagy could play an essential role in modulating signal transduction pathways during egg development.
Here, we provide further evidence for the necessity of autophagy during oogenesis and demonstrate that autophagy is especially required in subsets of FCs. Generation of autophagy-deficient FCs leads to a wide range of phenotypes that are similar to mutants with defects in the classical cell-cell signaling pathways in the ovary. Interestingly, we observe that loss of autophagy leads to a precocious activation of the Notch pathway in the FCs as monitored by the expression of Cut and Hindsight, two downstream effectors of Notch signaling.
Our findings point to an unexpected function for autophagy in the modulation of the Notch signaling pathway during Drosophila oogenesis and suggest a function for autophagy in proper receptor activation. Egg development is affected by an imbalance of autophagy between signal sending (germline) and signal receiving cell (FC), thus the lack of autophagy in the germline is likely to decrease the amount of active ligand and accordingly compensates for increased signaling in autophagy-defective follicle cells.
Autophagy; Drosophila; Follicle cells; Oogenesis; Notch
The contribution of cell proliferation to regeneration varies greatly between different metazoan models. Planarians rely on pluripotent neoblasts and amphibian limb regeneration depends upon formation of a proliferative blastema, while regeneration in Hydra can occur in the absence of cell proliferation. Recently, the cnidarian Nematostella vectensis has shown potential as a model for studies of regeneration because of the ability to conduct comparative studies of patterning during embryonic development, asexual reproduction, and regeneration. The present study investigates the pattern of cell proliferation during the regeneration of oral structures and the role of cell proliferation in this process.
In intact polyps, cell proliferation is observed in both ectodermal and endodermal tissues throughout the entire oral-aboral axis, including in the tentacles and physa. Following bisection, there is initially little change in proliferation at the wound site of the aboral fragment, however, beginning 18 to 24 hours after amputation there is a dramatic increase in cell proliferation at the wound site in the aboral fragment. This elevated level of proliferation is maintained throughout the course or regeneration of oral structures, including the tentacles, the mouth, and the pharynx. Treatments with the cell proliferation inhibitors hydroxyurea and nocodazole demonstrate that cell proliferation is indispensable for the regeneration of oral structures. Although inhibition of regeneration by nocodazole was generally irreversible, secondary amputation reinitiates cell proliferation and regeneration.
The study has found that high levels of cell proliferation characterize the regeneration of oral structures in Nematostella, and that this cell proliferation is necessary for the proper progression of regeneration. Thus, while cell proliferation contributes to regeneration of oral structures in both Nematostella and Hydra, Nematostella lacks the ability to undergo the compensatory morphallactic mode of regeneration that characterizes Hydra. Our results are consistent with amputation activating a quiescent population of mitotically competent stem cells in spatial proximity to the wound site, which form the regenerated structures.
The first distinct differentiation event in mammals occurs at the blastocyst stage when totipotent blastomeres differentiate into either pluripotent inner cell mass (ICM) or multipotent trophectoderm (TE). Here we determined, for the first time, global gene expression patterns in the ICM and TE isolated from bovine blastocysts. The ICM and TE were isolated from blastocysts harvested at day 8 after insemination by magnetic activated cell sorting, and cDNA sequenced using the SOLiD 4.0 system.
A total of 870 genes were differentially expressed between ICM and TE. Several genes characteristic of ICM (for example, NANOG, SOX2, and STAT3) and TE (ELF5, GATA3, and KRT18) in mouse and human showed similar patterns in bovine. Other genes, however, showed differences in expression between ICM and TE that deviates from the expected based on mouse and human.
Analysis of gene expression indicated that differentiation of blastomeres of the morula-stage embryo into the ICM and TE of the blastocyst is accompanied by differences between the two cell lineages in expression of genes controlling metabolic processes, endocytosis, hatching from the zona pellucida, paracrine and endocrine signaling with the mother, and genes supporting the changes in cellular architecture, stemness, and hematopoiesis necessary for development of the trophoblast.
Blastocyst; Trophectoderm; Inner cell mass; Development
Temperature affects virtually all cellular processes. A quick increase in temperature challenges the cells to undergo a heat shock response to maintain cellular homeostasis. Heat shock factor-1 (HSF-1) functions as a major player in this response as it activates the transcription of genes coding for molecular chaperones (also called heat shock proteins) that maintain structural integrity of proteins. However, the mechanisms by which HSF-1 adjusts fundamental cellular processes such as growth, proliferation, differentiation and aging to the ambient temperature remain largely unknown.
We demonstrate here that in Caenorhabditis elegans HSF-1 represses the expression of daf-7 encoding a TGF-β (transforming growth factor-beta) ligand, to induce young larvae to enter the dauer stage, a developmentally arrested, non-feeding, highly stress-resistant, long-lived larval form triggered by crowding and starvation. Under favorable conditions, HSF-1 is inhibited by crowding pheromone-sensitive guanylate cyclase/cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate) and systemic nutrient-sensing insulin/IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) signaling; loss of HSF-1 activity allows DAF-7 to promote reproductive growth. Thus, HSF-1 interconnects the insulin/IGF-1, TGF-β and cGMP neuroendocrine systems to control development and longevity in response to diverse environmental stimuli. Furthermore, HSF-1 upregulates another TGF-β pathway-interacting gene, daf-9/cytochrome P450, thereby fine-tuning the decision between normal growth and dauer formation.
Together, these results provide mechanistic insight into how temperature, nutrient availability and population density coordinately influence development, lifespan, behavior and stress response through HSF-1.
Heat shock factor-1; C. elegans; Dauer development; Aging; Signaling crosstalk
Oxygen sensing is a near universal signaling modality that, in eukaryotes ranging from protists such as Dictyostelium and Toxoplasma to humans, involves a cytoplasmic prolyl 4-hydroxylase that utilizes oxygen and α-ketoglutarate as potentially rate-limiting substrates. A divergence between the animal and protist mechanisms is the enzymatic target: the animal transcriptional factor subunit hypoxia inducible factor-α whose hydroxylation results in its poly-ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, and the protist E3SCFubiquitin ligase subunit Skp1 whose hydroxylation might control the stability of other proteins. In Dictyostelium, genetic studies show that hydroxylation of Skp1 by PhyA, and subsequent glycosylation of the hydroxyproline, is required for normal oxygen sensing during multicellular development at an air/water interface. Because it has been difficult to detect an effect of hypoxia on Skp1 hydroxylation itself, the role of Skp1 modification was investigated in a submerged model of Dictyostelium development dependent on atmospheric hyperoxia.
In static isotropic conditions beneath 70-100% atmospheric oxygen, amoebae formed radially symmetrical cyst-like aggregates consisting of a core of spores and undifferentiated cells surrounded by a cortex of stalk cells. Analysis of mutants showed that cyst formation was inhibited by high Skp1 levels via a hydroxylation-dependent mechanism, and spore differentiation required core glycosylation of Skp1 by a mechanism that could be bypassed by excess Skp1. Failure of spores to differentiate at lower oxygen correlated qualitatively with reduced Skp1 hydroxylation.
We propose that, in the physiological range, oxygen or downstream metabolic effectors control the timing of developmental progression via activation of newly synthesized Skp1.
Prolyl 4-hydroxylase; Glycosyltransferase; Oxygen sensing; Hypoxia; Hydroxyproline; Cellular slime mold
Embryonic development proceeds through finely tuned reprogramming of the parental genomes to form a totipotent embryo. Cells within this embryo will then differentiate and give rise to all the tissues of a new individual. Early embryonic development thus offers a particularly interesting system in which to analyze functional nuclear organization. When the organization of higher-order chromatin structures, such as pericentromeric heterochromatin, was first analyzed in mouse embryos, specific nuclear rearrangements were observed that correlated with embryonic genome activation at the 2-cell stage. However, most existing analyses have been conducted by visual observation of fluorescent images, in two dimensions or on z-stack sections/projections, but only rarely in three dimensions (3D).
In the present study, we used DNA fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to localize centromeric (minor satellites), pericentromeric (major satellites), and telomeric genomic sequences throughout the preimplantation period in naturally fertilized mouse embryos (from the 1-cell to blastocyst stage). Their distribution was then analyzed in 3D on confocal image stacks, focusing on the nucleolar precursor bodies and nucleoli known to evolve rapidly throughout the first developmental stages. We used computational imaging to quantify various nuclear parameters in the 3D-FISH images, to analyze the organization of compartments of interest, and to measure physical distances between these compartments.
The results highlight differences in nuclear organization between the two parental inherited genomes at the 1-cell stage, i.e. just after fertilization. We also found that the reprogramming of the embryonic genome, which starts at the 2-cell stage, undergoes other remarkable changes during preimplantation development, particularly at the 4-cell stage.
FISH; Heterochromatin; Centromeres; Telomeres; rDNA; Nucleolus; Nuclear organization; Embryo; Computational analysis
Hox proteins are transcription factors involved in crucial processes during animal development. Their mode of action remains scantily documented. While other families of transcription factors, like Smad or Stat, are known cell signaling transducers, such a function has never been squarely addressed for Hox proteins.
To investigate the mode of action of mammalian Hoxa1, we characterized its interactome by a systematic yeast two-hybrid screening against ~12,200 ORF-derived polypeptides. Fifty nine interactors were identified of which 45 could be confirmed by affinity co-purification in animal cell lines. Many Hoxa1 interactors are proteins involved in cell-signaling transduction, cell adhesion and vesicular trafficking. Forty-one interactions were detectable in live cells by Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation which revealed distinctive intracellular patterns for these interactions consistent with the selective recruitment of Hoxa1 by subgroups of partner proteins at vesicular, cytoplasmic or nuclear compartments.
The characterization of the Hoxa1 interactome presented here suggests unexplored roles for Hox proteins in cell-to-cell communication and cell physiology.
Hox; Hoxa1; ORFeome; Interactome
In chondrichthyans, basal osteichthyans and tetrapods, vertebral bodies have cartilaginous anlagen that subsequently mineralize (chondrichthyans) or ossify (osteichthyans). Chondrocytes that form the vertebral centra derive from somites. In teleost fish, vertebral centrum formation starts in the absence of cartilage, through direct mineralization of the notochord sheath. In a second step, the notochord is surrounded by somite-derived intramembranous bone. In several small teleost species, including zebrafish (Danio rerio), even haemal and neural arches form directly as intramembranous bone and only modified caudalmost arches remain cartilaginous. This study compares initial patterns of mineralization in different regions of the vertebral column in zebrafish. We ask if the absence or presence of cartilaginous arches influences the pattern of notochord sheath mineralization.
To reveal which cells are involved in mineralization of the notochord sheath we identify proliferating cells, we trace mineralization on the histological level and we analyze cell ultrastructure by TEM. Moreover, we localize proteins and genes that are typically expressed by skeletogenic cells such as Collagen type II, Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and Osteocalcin (Oc). Mineralization of abdominal and caudal vertebrae starts with a complete ring within the notochord sheath and prior to the formation of the bony arches. In contrast, notochord mineralization of caudal fin centra starts with a broad ventral mineral deposition, associated with the bases of the modified cartilaginous arches. Similar, arch-related, patterns of mineralization occur in teleosts that maintain cartilaginous arches throughout the spine.
Throughout the entire vertebral column, we were able to co-localize ALP-positive signal with chordacentrum mineralization sites, as well as Collagen II and Oc protein accumulation in the mineralizing notochord sheath. In the caudal fin region, ALP and Oc signals were clearly produced both by the notochord epithelium and cells outside the notochord, the cartilaginous arches. Based on immunostaining, real time PCR and oc2:gfp transgenic fish, we identify Oc in the mineralizing notochord sheath as osteocalcin isoform 1 (Oc1).
If notochord mineralization occurs prior to arch formation, mineralization of the notochord sheath is ring-shaped. If notochord mineralization occurs after cartilaginous arch formation, mineralization of the notochord sheath starts at the insertion point of the arches, with a basiventral origin. The presence of ALP and Oc1, not only in cells outside the notochord, but also in the notochord epithelium, suggests an active role of the notochord in the mineralization process. The same may apply to Col II-positive chondrocytes of the caudalmost haemal arches that show ALP activity and Oc1 accumulation, since these chondrocytes do not mineralize their own cartilage matrix. Even without cartilaginous preformed vertebral centra, the cartilaginous arches may have an inductive role in vertebral centrum formation, possibly contributing to the distinct mineralization patterns of zebrafish vertebral column and caudal fin vertebral fusion.
Vertebral column; Vertebral fusion; Notochord; Osteocalcin
FGF signaling plays numerous roles during organogenesis of the embryonic gut tube. Mouse explant studies suggest that different thresholds of FGF signaling from the cardiogenic mesoderm induce lung, liver, and pancreas lineages from the ventral foregut progenitor cells. The mechanisms that regulate FGF dose in vivo are unknown. Here we use Xenopus embryos to examine the hypothesis that a prolonged duration of FGF signaling from the mesoderm is required to induce foregut organs.
We show that both mesoderm and FGF signaling are required for liver and lung development in Xenopus; formally demonstrating that this important step in organ induction is conserved with other vertebrate species. Prolonged contact with the mesoderm and persistent FGF signaling through both MEK and PI3K over an extended period of time are required for liver and lung specification. Inhibition of FGF signaling results in reduced liver and lung development, with a modest expansion of the pancreas/duodenum progenitor domain. Hyper-activation of FGF signaling has the opposite effect expanding liver and lung gene expression and repressing pancreatic markers. We show that FGF signaling is cell autonomously required in the endoderm and that a dominant negative FGF receptor decreases the ability of ventral foregut progenitor cells to contribute to the lung and liver buds.
These results suggest that the liver and lungs are specified at progressively later times in development requiring mesoderm contact for different lengths of time. Our data suggest that this is achieved at least in part through prolonged FGF signaling. In addition to providing a foundation for further mechanistic studies on foregut organogenesis using the experimental advantages of the Xenopus system, these data have implications for the directed differentiation of stem cells into foregut lineages.
FGF; ERK; AKT; Lung; Liver; Foregut; Endoderm; Organ induction; Xenopus
Secreted frizzled-related proteins (SFRPs) are a family of proteins that block the Wnt signaling pathway and loss of SFRP1 expression is found in breast cancer along with a multitude of other human cancers. Activated Wnt signaling leads to inappropriate mammary gland development and mammary tumorigenesis in mice. When SFRP1 is knocked down in immortalized non-malignant mammary epithelial cells, the cells exhibit a malignant phenotype which resembles the characteristics observed in metastatic breast cancer stem-like cells. However, the effects of SFRP1 loss on mammary gland development in vivo are yet to be elucidated. The work described here was initiated to investigate the role of SFRP1 in mammary gland development and whether SFRP1−/− mice exhibit changes in mammary gland morphology and cell signaling pathways shown to be associated with SFRP1 loss in vitro.
10 week old nulliparous SFRP1−/− mammary glands exhibited branching with clear lobulo-alveolar development, which normally only occurs in hormonally stimulated mid-pregnant wt mammary glands. Explant cultures of SFRP1−/− mammary glands display increased levels of a well known Wnt signaling target gene, Axin2. Histomorphologic evaluation of virgin glands revealed that by 10 weeks of age, the duct profile is markedly altered in SFRP1−/− mice showing a significantly higher density of ducts with distinct alveoli present throughout the mammary gland, and with focal ductal epithelial hyperplasia. These findings persist as the mice age and are evident at 23 weeks of age. Changes in gene expression, including c-Myc, TGFβ-2, Wnt4, RANKL, and Rspo2 early in mammary gland development are consistent with the excessive hyper branching phenotype. Finally, we found that loss of SFRP1 significantly increases the number of mammary epithelial cells capable of mammosphere formation.
Our study indicates that SFRP1 gene is critical for maintaining proper mammary gland development, and that reduced levels of SFRP1 results in hyperplastic lesions and its loss may be a critical event in cancer initiation.
SFRP1; Mammary gland; Branching morphogenesis
The multicellular slug in Dictyostelium has a single tip that acts as an organising centre patterning the rest of the slug. High adenosine levels at the tip are believed to be responsible for this tip dominance and the adenosine antagonist, caffeine overrides this dominance promoting multiple tip formation.
Caffeine induced multiple tip effect is conserved in all the Dictyostelids tested. Two key components of cAMP relay namely, cAMP phosphodiesterase (Pde4) and adenyl cyclase-A (AcaA) levels get reduced during secondary tip formation in Dictyostelium discoideum. Pharmacological inhibition of cAMP phosphodiesterase also resulted in multiple tips. Caffeine reduces cAMP levels by 16.4, 2.34, 4.71 and 6.30 folds, respectively in D. discoideum, D. aureostipes, D. minutum and Polysphondylium pallidum. We propose that altered cAMP levels, perturbed cAMP gradient and impaired signalling may be the critical factors for the origin of multiple tips in other Dictyostelids as well. In the presence of caffeine, slug cell movement gets impaired and restricted. The cell type specific markers, ecmA (prestalk) and pspA (prespore) cells are not equally contributing during additional tip formation. During additional tip emergence, prespore cells transdifferentiate to compensate the loss of prestalk cells.
Caffeine decreases adenyl cyclase–A (AcaA) levels and as a consequence low cAMP is synthesised altering the gradient. Further if cAMP phosphodiesterase (Pde4) levels go down in the presence of caffeine, the cAMP gradient breaks down. When there is no cAMP gradient, directional movement is inhibited and might favour re-differentiation of prespore to prestalk cells.
Zebrafish has emerged as a powerful model organism to study the process of regeneration. This teleost fish has the ability to regenerate various tissues and organs like the heart, spinal cord, retina and fins. In this study, we took advantage of the existence of an excellent morphological reference in the zebrafish caudal fin, the bony ray bifurcations, as a model to study positional information upon amputation. We investigated the existence of positional information for bifurcation formation by performing repeated amputations at different proximal-distal places along the fin.
We show that, while amputations performed at a long distance from the bifurcation do not change its final proximal-distal position in the regenerated fin, consecutive amputations done at 1 segment proximal to the bifurcation (near the bifurcation) induce a positional reset and progressively shift its position distally. Furthermore, we investigated the potential role of Shh and Fgf signalling pathways in the determination of the bifurcation position and observed that they do not seem to be involved in this process.
Our results reveal that, an amputation near the bifurcation inhibits the formation of the regenerated bifurcation in the pre-amputation position, inducing a distalization of this structure. This shows that the positional memory for bony ray bifurcations depends on the proximal-distal level of the amputation.
Caudal fin regeneration; Bony ray bifurcations; Shh; Fgf; Zebrafish
Mouse limb bud is a prime model to study the regulatory interactions that control vertebrate organogenesis. Major aspects of limb bud development are controlled by feedback loops that define a self-regulatory signalling system. The SHH/GREM1/AER-FGF feedback loop forms the core of this signalling system that operates between the posterior mesenchymal organiser and the ectodermal signalling centre. The BMP antagonist Gremlin1 (GREM1) is a critical node in this system, whose dynamic expression is controlled by BMP, SHH, and FGF signalling and key to normal progression of limb bud development. Previous analysis identified a distant cis-regulatory landscape within the neighbouring Formin1 (Fmn1) locus that is required for Grem1 expression, reminiscent of the genomic landscapes controlling HoxD and Shh expression in limb buds.
Three highly conserved regions (HMCO1-3) were identified within the previously defined critical genomic region and tested for their ability to regulate Grem1 expression in mouse limb buds. Using a combination of BAC and conventional transgenic approaches, a 9 kb region located ~70 kb downstream of the Grem1 transcription unit was identified. This region, termed Grem1 Regulatory Sequence 1 (GRS1), is able to recapitulate major aspects of Grem1 expression, as it drives expression of a LacZ reporter into the posterior and, to a lesser extent, in the distal-anterior mesenchyme. Crossing the GRS1 transgene into embryos with alterations in the SHH and BMP pathways established that GRS1 depends on SHH and is modulated by BMP signalling, i.e. integrates inputs from these pathways. Chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed interaction of endogenous GLI3 proteins with the core cis-regulatory elements in the GRS1 region. As GLI3 is a mediator of SHH signal transduction, these results indicated that SHH directly controls Grem1 expression through the GRS1 region. Finally, all cis-regulatory regions within the Grem1 genomic landscape locate to the DNAse I hypersensitive sites identified in this genomic region by the ENCODE consortium.
This study establishes that distant cis-regulatory regions scattered through a larger genomic landscape control the highly dynamic expression of Grem1, which is key to normal progression of mouse limb bud development.
Valvulogenesis and septation in the developing heart depend on the formation and remodeling of endocardial cushions in the atrioventricular canal (AVC) and outflow tract (OFT). These cushions are invaded by a subpopulation of endocardial cells that undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition in response to paracrine and autocrine transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signals. We previously demonstrated that the RNA binding protein muscleblind-like 1 (MBNL1) is expressed specifically in the cushion endocardium, and knockdown of MBNL1 in stage 14 embryonic chicken AVC explants enhances TGFβ-dependent endocardial cell invasion.
In this study, we demonstrate that the effect of MBNL1 knockdown on invasion remains dependent on TGFβ3 after it is no longer required to induce basal levels of invasion. TGFβ3, but not TGFβ2, levels are elevated in medium conditioned by MBNL1-depleted AVC explants. TGFβ3 is elevated even when the myocardium is removed, indicating that MBNL1 modulates autocrine TGFβ3 production in the endocardium. More TGFβ3-positive cells are observed in the endocardial monolayer following MBNL1 knockdown. Addition of exogenous TGFβ3 to AVC explants recapitulates the effects of MBNL1 knockdown. Time course experiments demonstrate that knockdown of MBNL1 induces precocious TGFβ3 secretion, and early exposure to excess TGFβ3 induces precocious invasion. MBNL1 expression precedes TGFβ3 in the AVC endocardium, consistent with a role in preventing precocious autocrine TGFβ3 signaling. The stimulatory effects of MBNL1 knockdown on invasion are lost in stage 16 AVC explants. Knockdown of MBNL1 in OFT explants similarly enhances cell invasion, but not activation. TGFβ is necessary and sufficient to mediate this effect.
Taken together, these data support a model in which MBNL1 negatively regulates cell invasion in the endocardial cushions by restricting the magnitude and timing of endocardial-derived TGFβ3 production.
Muscleblind-like 1; Alternative splicing; TGFβ; Endocardial cushions; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Cell invasion
The WNT/β-CATENIN signaling cascade is crucial for the patterning of the early lung morphogenesis in mice, but its role in the developing human lung remains to be determined. In this study, expression patterns of canonical WNT/β-CATENIN signaling components, including WNT ligands (WNT2, WNT7B), receptors ( FZD4, FZD7, LRP5, LRP6), transducers ( DVL2, DVL3, GSK-3β, β-CATENIN, APC, AXIN2), transcription factors ( TCF4, LEF1) and antagonists ( SOSTDC1) were examined in human embryonic lung at 7, 12, 17 and 21 weeks of gestation (W) by real-time qRT-PCR and in situ hybridization.
qRT-PCR analysis showed that some of these components were gradually upregulated, while some were significantly downregulated from the 7 W to the 12 W. However, most components reached a high level at 17 W, with a subsequent decrease at 21 W. In situ hybridization showed that the canonical WNT ligands and receptors were predominantly located in the peripheral epithelium, whereas the canonical WNT signal transducers and transcription factors were not only detected in the respiratory epithelium, but some were also scattered at low levels in the surrounding mesenchyme in the developing human lung. Furthermore, Western blot, qRT-PCR and histological analysis demonstrated that the β-CATENIN-dependent WNT signaling in embryonic human lung was activated in vitro by CHIR 99021 stimulation.
This study of the expression patterns and in vitro activity of the canonical WNT/β-CATENIN pathways suggests that these components play an essential role in regulation of human lung development.
WNT/β-CATENIN signaling; Canonical; Mammalian lung development