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1.  Effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on asymmetric division and cytokinesis in mouse oocytes 
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is used extensively as a permeable cryoprotectant and is a common solvent utilized for several water-insoluble substances. DMSO has various biological and pharmacological activities; however, the effect of DMSO on mouse oocyte meiotic maturation remains unknown.
In DMSO-treated oocytes, we observed abnormal MII oocytes that contained large polar bodies, including 2-cell–like MII oocytes, during in vitro maturation. Oocyte polarization did not occur, due to the absence of actin cap formation and spindle migration. These features are among the primary causes of abnormal symmetric division; however, analysis of the mRNA expression levels of genes related to asymmetric division revealed no significant difference in the expression of these factors between the 3% DMSO-treated group and the control group. After each “blastomere” of the 2-cell–like MII stage oocytes was injected by one sperm head respectively, the oocytes still possessed the ability to extrude the second polar body from each “blastomere” and to begin cleavage. However, MII oocytes with large polar bodies developed to the blastocyst stage after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Furthermore, other permeable cryoprotectants, such as ethylene glycol and glycerol, also caused asymmetric division failure.
Permeable cryoprotectants, such as DMSO, ethylene glycol, and glycerol, affect asymmetric division. DMSO disrupts cytokinesis completion by inhibiting cortical reorganization and polarization. Oocytes that undergo symmetric division maintain the ability to begin cleavage after ICSI.
PMCID: PMC4074394  PMID: 24953160
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO); Asymmetric division; Actin cap; Spindle migration; Oocyte maturation
2.  Notochord-derived hedgehog is essential for tail regeneration in Xenopus tadpole 
Appendage regeneration in amphibians is regulated by the combinatorial actions of signaling molecules. The requirement of molecules secreted from specific tissues is reflected by the observation that the whole process of regeneration can be inhibited if a certain tissue is removed from the amputated stump. Interestingly, urodeles and anurans show different tissue dependencies during tail regeneration. The spinal cord is essential for tail regeneration in urodele but not in anuran larva, whereas the notochord but not the spinal cord is essential for tail regeneration in anuran tadpoles. Sonic hedgehog is one of the signaling molecules responsible for such phenomenon in axolotl, as hedgehog signaling is essential for overall tail regeneration and sonic hedgehog is exclusively expressed in the spinal cord. In order to know whether hedgehog signaling is involved in the molecular mechanism underlying the inconsistent tissue dependency for tail regeneration between anurans and urodeles, we investigated expression of hedgehog signal-related genes in the regenerating tail of Xenopus tadpole and examined the effect of the hedgehog signal inhibitor, cyclopamine, on the tail regeneration.
In Xenopus, sonic hedgehog is expressed exclusively in the notochord but not in the spinal cord of the regenerate. Overall regeneration was severely impaired in cyclopamine-treated tadpoles. Notochord maturation in the regenerate, including cell alignment and vacuolation, and myofiber formation were inhibited. Proliferation of spinal cord cells in the neural ampulla and of mesenchymal cells was also impaired.
As in the axolotl, hedgehog signaling is required for multiple steps in tail regeneration in the Xenopus tadpole, although the location of the Shh source is quite different between the two species. This difference in Shh localization is the likely basis for the differing tissue requirement for tail regeneration between urodeles and anurans.
PMCID: PMC4074850  PMID: 24941877
Xenopus; Tail regeneration; Hedgehog; Cyclopamine; Notochord; Spinal cord
3.  Distinct functions of the laminin β LN domain and collagen IV during cardiac extracellular matrix formation and stabilization of alary muscle attachments revealed by EMS mutagenesis in Drosophila 
The Drosophila heart (dorsal vessel) is a relatively simple tubular organ that serves as a model for several aspects of cardiogenesis. Cardiac morphogenesis, proper heart function and stability require structural components whose identity and ways of assembly are only partially understood. Structural components are also needed to connect the myocardial tube with neighboring cells such as pericardial cells and specialized muscle fibers, the so-called alary muscles.
Using an EMS mutagenesis screen for cardiac and muscular abnormalities in Drosophila embryos we obtained multiple mutants for two genetically interacting complementation groups that showed similar alary muscle and pericardial cell detachment phenotypes. The molecular lesions underlying these defects were identified as domain-specific point mutations in LamininB1 and Cg25C, encoding the extracellular matrix (ECM) components laminin β and collagen IV α1, respectively. Of particular interest within the LamininB1 group are certain hypomorphic mutants that feature prominent defects in cardiac morphogenesis and cardiac ECM layer formation, but in contrast to amorphic mutants, only mild defects in other tissues. All of these alleles carry clustered missense mutations in the laminin LN domain. The identified Cg25C mutants display weaker and largely temperature-sensitive phenotypes that result from glycine substitutions in different Gly-X-Y repeats of the triple helix-forming domain. While initial basement membrane assembly is not abolished in Cg25C mutants, incorporation of perlecan is impaired and intracellular accumulation of perlecan as well as the collagen IV α2 chain is detected during late embryogenesis.
Assembly of the cardiac ECM depends primarily on laminin, whereas collagen IV is needed for stabilization. Our data underscore the importance of a correctly assembled ECM particularly for the development of cardiac tissues and their lateral connections. The mutational analysis suggests that the β6/β3/β8 interface of the laminin β LN domain is highly critical for formation of contiguous cardiac ECM layers. Certain mutations in the collagen IV triple helix-forming domain may exert a semi-dominant effect leading to an overall weakening of ECM structures as well as intracellular accumulation of collagen and other molecules, thus paralleling observations made in other organisms and in connection with collagen-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC4068974  PMID: 24935095
Extracellular matrix; Heart tube; Alary muscles; Laminin; Collagen
4.  Targeted germ line disruptions reveal general and species-specific roles for paralog group 1 hox genes in zebrafish 
The developing vertebrate hindbrain is transiently segmented into rhombomeres by a process requiring Hox activity. Hox genes control specification of rhombomere fates, as well as the stereotypic differentiation of rhombomere-specific neuronal populations. Accordingly, germ line disruption of the paralog group 1 (PG1) Hox genes Hoxa1 and Hoxb1 causes defects in hindbrain segmentation and neuron formation in mice. However, antisense-mediated interference with zebrafish hoxb1a and hoxb1b (analogous to murine Hoxb1 and Hoxa1, respectively) produces phenotypes that are qualitatively and quantitatively distinct from those observed in the mouse. This suggests that PG1 Hox genes may have species-specific functions, or that anti-sense mediated interference may not completely inactivate Hox function in zebrafish.
Using zinc finger and TALEN technologies, we disrupted hoxb1a and hoxb1b in the zebrafish germ line to establish mutant lines for each gene. We find that zebrafish hoxb1a germ line mutants have a more severe phenotype than reported for Hoxb1a antisense treatment. This phenotype is similar to that observed in Hoxb1 knock out mice, suggesting that Hoxb1/hoxb1a have the same function in both species. Zebrafish hoxb1b germ line mutants also have a more severe phenotype than reported for hoxb1b antisense treatment (e.g. in the effect on Mauthner neuron differentiation), but this phenotype differs from that observed in Hoxa1 knock out mice (e.g. in the specification of rhombomere 5 (r5) and r6), suggesting that Hoxa1/hoxb1b have species-specific activities. We also demonstrate that Hoxb1b regulates nucleosome organization at the hoxb1a promoter and that retinoic acid acts independently of hoxb1b to activate hoxb1a expression.
We generated several novel germ line mutants for zebrafish hoxb1a and hoxb1b. Our analyses indicate that Hoxb1 and hoxb1a have comparable functions in zebrafish and mouse, suggesting a conserved function for these genes. In contrast, while Hoxa1 and hoxb1b share functions in the formation of r3 and r4, they differ with regards to r5 and r6, where Hoxa1 appears to control formation of r5, but not r6, in the mouse, whereas hoxb1b regulates formation of r6, but not r5, in zebrafish. Lastly, our data reveal independent regulation of hoxb1a expression by retinoic acid and Hoxb1b in zebrafish.
PMCID: PMC4061917  PMID: 24902847
Zinc finger nuclease; TALEN nuclease; Retinoic acid signaling; Hindbrain; Nucleosome positioning; Gene expression
5.  Detection of differential fetal and adult expression of chloride intracellular channel 4 (CLIC4) protein by analysis of a green fluorescent protein knock-in mouse line 
Chloride Intracellular Channel 4 (CLIC4) is one of seven members in the closely related CLIC protein family. CLIC4 is involved in multiple cellular processes including apoptosis, cellular differentiation, inflammation and endothelial tubulogenesis. Despite over a decade of research, no comprehensive in situ expression analysis of CLIC4 in a living organism has been reported. In order to fulfill this goal, we generated a knock-in mouse to express Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) from the CLIC4 locus, thus substituting the GFP coding region for CLIC4. We used GFP protein expression to eliminate cross reaction with other CLIC family members.
We analyzed CLIC4 expression during embryonic development and adult organs. During mid and late gestation, CLIC4 expression is modulated particularly in fetal brain, heart, thymus, liver and kidney as well as in developing brown adipose tissue and stratifying epidermis. In the adult mouse, CLIC4 is highly expressed globally in vascular endothelial cells as well as in liver, lung alveolar septae, pancreatic acini, spermatogonia, renal proximal tubules, cardiomyocytes and thymic epithelial cells. Neural expression included axonal tracks, olfactory bulb, Purkinje cell layer and dentate gyrus. Renal CLIC4 expression was most pronounced in proximal tubules, although altered renal function was not detected in the absence of CLIC4. Myeloid cells and B cells of the spleen are rich in CLIC4 expression as are CD4 and CD8 positive T cells.
In a comprehensive study detailing CLIC4 expression in situ in a mouse model that excludes cross reaction with other family members, we were able to document previously unreported expression for CLIC4 in developing fetus, particularly the brain. In addition, compartmentalized expression of CLIC4 in specific adult tissues and cells provides a focus to explore potential functions of this protein not addressed previously.
PMCID: PMC4073518  PMID: 24886590
CLIC4; GFP knockin; Fetal brain; Adult brain; Kidney function
7.  G1 checkpoint establishment in vivo during embryonic liver development 
The DNA damage-mediated cell cycle checkpoint is an essential mechanism in the DNA damage response (DDR). During embryonic development, the characteristics of cell cycle and DNA damage checkpoint evolve from an extremely short G1 cell phase and lacking G1 checkpoint to lengthening G1 phase and the establishment of the G1 checkpoint. However, the regulatory mechanisms governing these transitions are not well understood. In this study, pregnant mice were exposed to ionizing radiation (IR) to induce DNA damage at different embryonic stages; the kinetics and mechanisms of the establishment of DNA damage-mediated G1 checkpoint in embryonic liver were investigated.
We found that the G2 cell cycle arrest was the first response to DNA damage in early developmental stages. Starting at E13.5/E15.5, IR mediated inhibition of the G1 to S phase transition became evident. Concomitantly, IR induced the robust expression of p21 and suppressed Cdk2/cyclin E activity, which might involve in the initiation of G1 checkpoint. The established G1 cell cycle checkpoint, in combination with an enhanced DNA repair capacity at E15.5, displayed biologically protective effects of repairing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and reducing apoptosis in the short term as well as reducing chromosome deletion and breakage in the long term.
Our study is the first to demonstrate the establishment of the DNA damage-mediated G1 cell cycle checkpoint in liver cells during embryogenesis and its in vivo biological effects during embryonic liver development.
PMCID: PMC4031160  PMID: 24886500
Embryonic liver; Cell cycle checkpoint; Ionizing radiation
8.  A detailed staging scheme for late larval development in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus focused on readily-visible juvenile structures within the rudiment 
The purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, has long been the focus of developmental and ecological studies, and its recently-sequenced genome has spawned a diversity of functional genomics approaches. S. purpuratus has an indirect developmental mode with a pluteus larva that transforms after 1–3 months in the plankton into a juvenile urchin. Compared to insects and frogs, mechanisms underlying the correspondingly dramatic metamorphosis in sea urchins remain poorly understood. In order to take advantage of modern techniques to further our understanding of juvenile morphogenesis, organ formation, metamorphosis and the evolution of the pentameral sea urchin body plan, it is critical to assess developmental progression and rate during the late larval phase. This requires a staging scheme that describes developmental landmarks that can quickly and consistently be used to identify the stage of individual living larvae, and can be tracked during the final two weeks of larval development, as the juvenile is forming.
Notable structures that are easily observable in developing urchin larvae are the developing spines, test and tube feet within the juvenile rudiment that constitute much of the oral portion of the adult body plan. Here we present a detailed staging scheme of rudiment development in the purple urchin using soft structures of the rudiment and the primordia of these juvenile skeletal elements. We provide evidence that this scheme is robust and applicable across a range of temperature and feeding regimes.
Our proposed staging scheme provides both a useful method to study late larval development in the purple urchin, and a framework for developing similar staging schemes across echinoderms. Such efforts will have a high impact on evolutionary developmental studies and larval ecology, and facilitate research on this important deuterostome group.
PMCID: PMC4055376  PMID: 24886415
Sea urchin; Echinoidea; Echinodermata; Skeletogenesis; Rudiment; Metamorphosis; Morphogenesis; Growth; Development
9.  TGF-β1 induces senescence of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells via increase of mitochondrial ROS production 
Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (bmMSCs) are multipotent cells that can differentiate into diverse cell types, including cardiomyocytes. BmMSC-based transplantation is capable of repairing acute and chronic myocardial infarction. Prior to the transplantation, MSCs are usually induced in vitro by biological reagents and chemicals for directional differentiation. Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is one of the most commonly used biological reagents for induction of cardiomyocyte differentiation of bmMSCs. Previous studies have shown that TGF-β induces senescence in several cell types. However, whether TGF-β affects senescence of bmMSCs has not been elucidated. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of TGF-β1 on senescence of bmMSCs and the underlying mechanisms.
We found that TGF-β1 increased activity of senescence-associated-galactosidase (SA-Gal) and production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS) in bmMSCs in a dose-dependent manner. TGF-β1 also significantly decreased expression of superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) and Id1, and increased expression of 4-Hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) subunits and p16 in bmMSCs in a dose-dependent manner. Pre-treatment with mtROS inhibitor acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR, 0.1 mM) significantly inhibited TGF-β1-induced mtROS production and SA-Gal activity.
TGF-β1 can induce senescence of bmMSCs, which at least partially depends on mtROS production.
PMCID: PMC4031602  PMID: 24886313
Transforming growth factor beta 1; Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells; Cell senescence; Senescence-associated-galactosidase activity; Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species
10.  Interaction of light regimes and circadian clocks modulate timing of pre-adult developmental events in Drosophila 
Circadian clocks have been postulated to regulate development time in several species of insects including fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster. Previously we have reported that selection for faster pre-adult development reduces development time (by ~19 h or ~11%) and clock period (by ~0.5 h), suggesting a role of circadian clocks in the regulation of development time in D. melanogaster. We reasoned that these faster developing flies could serve as a model to study stage-specific interaction of circadian clocks and developmental events with the environmental light/dark (LD) conditions. We assayed the duration of three pre-adult stages in the faster developing (FD) and control (BD) populations under a variety of light regimes that are known to modulate circadian clocks and pre-adult development time of Drosophila to examine the role of circadian clocks in the timing of pre-adult developmental stages.
We find that the duration of pre-adult stages was shorter under constant light (LL) and short period light (L)/dark (D) cycles (L:D = 10:10 h; T20) compared to the standard 24 h day (L:D = 12:12 h; T24), long LD cycles (L:D = 14:14 h; T28) and constant darkness (DD). The difference in the duration of pre-adult stages between the FD and BD populations was significantly smaller under the three LD cycles and LL compared to DD, possibly due to the fact that clocks of both FD and BD flies are driven at the same pace in the three LD regimes owing to circadian entrainment, or are rendered dysfunctional under LL.
These results suggest that interaction between light regimes and circadian clocks regulate the duration of pre-adult developmental stages in fruit flies D. melanogaster.
PMCID: PMC4040135  PMID: 24885932
Circadian clocks; Faster development; Light regimes; Selection; Development time; Pre-adult stages
11.  Multiple modes of proepicardial cell migration require heartbeat 
The outermost layer of the vertebrate heart, the epicardium, forms from a cluster of progenitor cells termed the proepicardium (PE). PE cells migrate onto the myocardium to give rise to the epicardium. Impaired epicardial development has been associated with defects in valve development, cardiomyocyte proliferation and alignment, cardiac conduction system maturation and adult heart regeneration. Zebrafish are an excellent model for studying cardiac development and regeneration; however, little is known about how the zebrafish epicardium forms.
We report that PE migration occurs through multiple mechanisms and that the zebrafish epicardium is composed of a heterogeneous population of cells. Heterogeneity is first observed within the PE and persists through epicardium formation. Using in vivo imaging, histology and confocal microscopy, we show that PE cells migrate through a cellular bridge that forms between the pericardial mesothelium and the heart. We also observed the formation of PE aggregates on the pericardial surface, which were released into the pericardial cavity. It was previously reported that heartbeat-induced pericardiac fluid advections are necessary for PE cluster formation and subsequent epicardium development. We manipulated heartbeat genetically and pharmacologically and found that PE clusters clearly form in the absence of heartbeat. However, when heartbeat was inhibited the PE failed to migrate to the myocardium and the epicardium did not form. We isolated and cultured hearts with only a few epicardial progenitor cells and found a complete epicardial layer formed. However, pharmacologically inhibiting contraction in culture prevented epicardium formation. Furthermore, we isolated control and silent heart (sih) morpholino (MO) injected hearts prior to epicardium formation (60 hpf) and co-cultured these hearts with “donor” hearts that had an epicardium forming (108 hpf). Epicardial cells from donor hearts migrated on to control but not sih MO injected hearts.
Epicardial cells stem from a heterogeneous population of progenitors, suggesting that the progenitors in the PE have distinct identities. PE cells attach to the heart via a cellular bridge and free-floating cell clusters. Pericardiac fluid advections are not necessary for the development of the PE cluster, however heartbeat is required for epicardium formation. Epicardium formation can occur in culture without normal hydrodynamic and hemodynamic forces, but not without contraction.
PMCID: PMC4048602  PMID: 24885804
Epicardium; Epicardial; Proepicardium; Proepicardial; Heart; Zebrafish; tcf21
12.  Multiple transcription factors directly regulate Hox gene lin-39 expression in ventral hypodermal cells of the C. elegans embryo and larva, including the hypodermal fate regulators LIN-26 and ELT-6 
Hox genes encode master regulators of regional fate specification during early metazoan development. Much is known about the initiation and regulation of Hox gene expression in Drosophila and vertebrates, but less is known in the non-arthropod invertebrate model system, C. elegans. The C. elegans Hox gene lin-39 is required for correct fate specification in the midbody region, including the Vulval Precursor Cells (VPCs). To better understand lin-39 regulation and function, we aimed to identify transcription factors necessary for lin-39 expression in the VPCs, and in particular sought factors that initiate lin-39 expression in the embryo.
We used the yeast one-hybrid (Y1H) method to screen for factors that bound to 13 fragments from the lin-39 region: twelve fragments contained sequences conserved between C. elegans and two other nematode species, while one fragment was known to drive reporter gene expression in the early embryo in cells that generate the VPCs. Sixteen transcription factors that bind to eight lin-39 genomic fragments were identified in yeast, and we characterized several factors by verifying their physical interactions in vitro, and showing that reduction of their function leads to alterations in lin-39 levels and lin-39::GFP reporter expression in vivo. Three factors, the orphan nuclear hormone receptor NHR-43, the hypodermal fate regulator LIN-26, and the GATA factor ELT-6 positively regulate lin-39 expression in the embryonic precursors to the VPCs. In particular, ELT-6 interacts with an enhancer that drives GFP expression in the early embryo, and the ELT-6 site we identified is necessary for proper embryonic expression. These three factors, along with the factors ZTF-17, BED-3 and TBX-9, also positively regulate lin-39 expression in the larval VPCs.
These results significantly expand the number of factors known to directly bind and regulate lin-39 expression, identify the first factors required for lin-39 expression in the embryo, and hint at a positive feedback mechanism involving GATA factors that maintains lin-39 expression in the vulval lineage. This work indicates that, as in other organisms, the regulation of Hox gene expression in C. elegans is complicated, redundant and robust.
PMCID: PMC4051164  PMID: 24885717
C. elegans; Hox; Gene expression; GATA; Development; Cell fate
13.  Construction of a cDNA library for miniature pig mandibular deciduous molars 
The miniature pig provides an excellent experimental model for tooth morphogenesis because its diphyodont and heterodont dentition resembles that of humans. However, little information is available on the process of tooth development or the exact molecular mechanisms controlling tooth development in miniature pigs or humans. Thus, the analysis of gene expression related to each stage of tooth development is very important.
In our study, after serial sections were made, the development of the crown of the miniature pigs’ mandibular deciduous molar could be divided into five main phases: dental lamina stage (E33-E35), bud stage (E35-E40), cap stage (E40-E50), early bell stage (E50-E60), and late bell stage (E60-E65). Total RNA was isolated from the tooth germ of miniature pig embryos at E35, E45, E50, and E60, and a cDNA library was constructed. Then, we identified cDNA sequences on a large scale screen for cDNA profiles in the developing mandibular deciduous molars (E35, E45, E50, and E60) of miniature pigs using Illumina Solexa deep sequencing. Microarray assay was used to detect the expression of genes. Lastly, through Unigene sequence analysis and cDNA expression pattern analysis at E45 and E60, we found that 12 up-regulated and 15 down-regulated genes during the four periods are highly conserved genes homologous with known Homo sapiens genes. Furthermore, there were 6 down-regulated and 2 up-regulated genes in the miniature pig that were highly homologous to Homo sapiens genes compared with those in the mouse.
Our results not only identify the specific transcriptome and cDNA profile in developing mandibular deciduous molars of the miniature pig, but also provide useful information for investigating the molecular mechanism of tooth development in the miniature pig.
PMCID: PMC4021421  PMID: 24750690
Tooth; Development; Histology; Unigene; Sequence; Miniature pig
14.  Mechanisms underlying dual effects of serotonin during development of Helisoma trivolvis (Mollusca) 
Serotonin (5-HT) is well known as widely distributed modulator of developmental processes in both vertebrates and invertebrates. It is also the earliest neurotransmitter to appear during neuronal development. In aquatic invertebrates, which have larvae in their life cycle, 5-HT is involved in regulation of stages transition including larval metamorphosis and settlement. However, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying developmental transition in aquatic invertebrate species are yet poorly understood. Earlier we demonstrated that in larvae of freshwater molluscs and marine polychaetes, endogenous 5-HT released from the neurons of the apical sensory organ (ASO) in response to external stimuli retarded larval development at premetamorphic stages, and accelerated it at metamorphic stages. Here we used a freshwater snail Helisoma trivolvis to study molecular mechanisms underlying these dual developmental effects of 5-HT.
Larval development of H. trivolvis includes transition from premetamorphic to metamorphic stages and shares the main features of metamorphosis with free-swimming aquatic larvae. Three types of 5-HT receptors (5-HT1-, 5-HT4- and 5-HT7-like) are functionally active at premetamorphic (trochophore, veliger) and metamorphic (veliconcha) stages, and expression patterns of these receptors and respective G proteins undergo coordinated changes during development. Stimulation of these receptors modulated cAMP-dependent regulation of cell divisions. Expression of 5-HT4- and 5-HT7-like receptors and their downstream Gs protein was down-regulated during the transition of pre- to metamorphic stage, while expression of 5-HT1 -like receptor and its downstream Gi protein was upregulated. In accordance with relative amount of these receptors, stimulation of 5-HTRs at premetamorphic stages induces developmental retardation, while their stimulation at metamorphic stages induces developmental acceleration.
We present a novel molecular mechanism that underlies stage-specific changes in developmental tempo of H. trivolvis larvae in response to endogenous 5-HT produced by the neurons of the ASO. We suggest that consecutive changes in expression patterns of different receptors and their downstream partners in the course of larval development represent the molecular base of larval transition from premetamorphic (non-competent) to metamorphic (competent) state.
PMCID: PMC4007640  PMID: 24625099
Serotonin receptors; Helisoma trivolvis; Development; Metamorphosis; Trochophore; Larval competence
16.  Regular heartbeat rhythm at the heartbeat initiation stage is essential for normal cardiogenesis at low temperature 
The development of blood flow in the heart is crucial for heart function and embryonic survival. Recent studies have revealed the importance of the extracellular matrix and the mechanical stress applied to the valve cushion that controls blood flow to the formation of the cardiac valve during embryogenesis. However, the events that trigger such valve formation and mechanical stress, and their temperature dependence have not been explained completely. Medaka (Oryzias latipes) inhabits a wide range of East Asia and adapts to a wide range of climates. We used medaka embryos from different genomic backgrounds and analyzed heartbeat characteristics including back-and-forth blood flow and bradyarrhythmia in embryos incubated at low temperature. We also used high-speed imaging analysis to examine the heartbeat of these animals after transient exposure to low temperature.
Embryos of the Hd-rR medaka strain exhibited back-and-forth blood flow in the heart (blood regurgitation) after incubation at 15°C. This regurgitation was induced by exposure to low temperature around the heartbeat initiation period and was related to abnormalities in the maintenance or pattern of contraction of the atrium or the atrioventricular canal. The Odate strain from the northern Japanese group exhibited normal blood flow after incubation at 15°C. High-speed time-lapse analysis of the heartbeat revealed that bradyarrhythmia occurred only in Hd-rR embryos incubated at 15°C. The coefficient of contraction, defined as the quotient of the length of the atrium at systole divided by its length at diastole, was not affected in either strain. The average heart rate after removing the effect of arrhythmia did not differ significantly between the two strains, suggesting that the mechanical stress of individual myocardial contractions and the total mechanical stress could be equivalent, regardless of the presence of arrhythmia or the heart rate. Test-cross experiments suggested that this circulation phenotype was caused by a single major genomic locus.
These results suggest that cardiogenesis at low temperature requires a constant heartbeat. Abnormal contraction rhythms at the stage of heartbeat initiation may cause regurgitation at later stages. From the evolutionary viewpoint, strains that exhibit normal cardiogenesis during development at low temperature inhabit northern environments.
PMCID: PMC3936829  PMID: 24564206
Heartbeat; Medaka; Blood regurgitation; Cold adaptation; Cardiogenesis
17.  Chitosan/siRNA nanoparticle targeting demonstrates a requirement for single-minded during larval and pupal olfactory system development of the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti 
Essentially nothing is known about the genetic regulation of olfactory system development in vector mosquitoes, which use olfactory cues to detect blood meal hosts. Studies in Drosophila melanogaster have identified a regulatory matrix of transcription factors that controls pupal/adult odorant receptor (OR) gene expression in olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). However, it is unclear if transcription factors that function in the D. melanogaster regulatory matrix are required for OR expression in mosquitoes. Furthermore, the regulation of OR expression during development of the larval olfactory system, which is far less complex than that of pupae/adults, is not well understood in any insect, including D. melanogaster. Here, we examine the regulation of OR expression in the developing larval olfactory system of Aedes aegypti, the dengue vector mosquito.
A. aegypti bears orthologs of eight transcription factors that regulate OR expression in D. melanogaster pupae/adults. These transcription factors are expressed in A. aegypti larval antennal sensory neurons, and consensus binding sites for these transcription factors reside in the 5’ flanking regions of A. aegypti OR genes. Consensus binding sites for Single-minded (Sim) are located adjacent to over half the A. aegypti OR genes, suggesting that this transcription factor functions as a major regulator of mosquito OR expression. To functionally test this hypothesis, chitosan/siRNA nanoparticles were used to target sim during larval olfactory development. These experiments demonstrated that Sim positively regulates expression of a large subset of OR genes, including orco, the obligate co-receptor in the assembly and function of heteromeric OR/Orco complexes. Decreased innervation of the antennal lobe was also noted in sim knockdown larvae. These OR expression and antennal lobe defects correlated with a larval odorant tracking behavioral defect. OR expression and antennal lobe defects were also observed in sim knockdown pupae.
The results of this investigation indicate that Sim has multiple functions during larval and pupal olfactory system development in A. aegypti.
PMCID: PMC3936921  PMID: 24552425
Aedes aegypti; Neural development; Single-minded; Odorant receptor; Olfactory receptor neuron; Targeting; siRNA; Nanoparticle; Mosquito; Olfaction
18.  Primary culture of avian embryonic heart forming region cells to study the regulation of vertebrate early heart morphogenesis by vitamin A 
Important knowledge about the role of vitamin A in vertebrate heart development has been obtained using the vitamin A-deficient avian in ovo model which enables the in vivo examination of very early stages of vertebrate heart morphogenesis. These studies have revealed the critical role of the vitamin A-active form, retinoic acid (RA) in the regulation of several developmental genes, including the important growth regulatory factor, transforming growth factor-beta2 (TGFβ2), involved in early events of heart morphogenesis. However, this in ovo model is not readily available for elucidating details of molecular mechanisms determining RA activity, thus limiting further examination of RA-regulated early heart morphogenesis. In order to obtain insights into RA-regulated gene expression during these early events, a reliable in vitro model is needed. Here we describe a cell culture that closely reproduces the in ovo observed regulatory effects of RA on TGFβ2 and on several developmental genes linked to TGFβ signaling during heart morphogenesis.
We have developed an avian heart forming region (HFR) cell based in vitro model that displays the characteristics associated with vertebrate early heart morphogenesis, i.e. the expression of Nkx2.5 and GATA4, the cardiogenesis genes, of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), the vasculogenesis gene and of fibronectin (FN1), an essential component in building the heart, and the expression of the multifunctional genes TGFβ2 and neogenin (NEO). Importantly, we established that the HFR cell culture is a valid model to study RA-regulated molecular events during heart morphogenesis and that the expression of TGFβ2 as well as the expression of several TGFβ2-linked developmental genes is regulated by RA.
Our findings reported here offer a biologically relevant experimental in vitro system for the elucidation of RA-regulated expression of TGFβ2 and other genes involved in vertebrate early cardiovascular morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3939001  PMID: 24552295
Chicken heart forming region cells; in vitro culture; Retinoic acid; TGFβ2; Early cardiovascular development
19.  Functional modifications associated with gastrointestinal tract organogenesis during metamorphosis in Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) 
Flatfish metamorphosis is a hormone regulated post-embryonic developmental event that transforms a symmetric larva into an asymmetric juvenile. In altricial-gastric teleost fish, differentiation of the stomach takes place after the onset of first feeding, and during metamorphosis dramatic molecular and morphological modifications of the gastrointestinal (GI-) tract occur. Here we present the functional ontogeny of the developing GI-tract from an integrative perspective in the pleuronectiforme Atlantic halibut, and test the hypothesis that the multiple functions of the teleost stomach develop synchronously during metamorphosis.
Onset of gastric function was determined with several approaches (anatomical, biochemical, molecular and in vivo observations). In vivo pH analysis in the GI-tract lumen combined with quantitative PCR (qPCR) of α and β subunits of the gastric proton pump (H+/K+-ATPase) and pepsinogen A2 indicated that gastric proteolytic capacity is established during the climax of metamorphosis. Transcript abundance of ghrelin, a putative orexigenic signalling molecule produced in the developing stomach, correlated (p < 0.05) with the emergence of gastric proteolytic activity, suggesting that the stomach’s role in appetite regulation occurs simultaneously with the establishment of proteolytic function. A 3D models series of the GI-tract development indicated a functional pyloric sphincter prior to first feeding. Observations of fed larvae in vivo confirmed that stomach reservoir function was established before metamorphosis, and was thus independent of this event. Mechanical breakdown of food and transportation of chyme through the GI-tract was observed in vivo and resulted from phasic and propagating contractions established well before metamorphosis. The number of contractions in the midgut decreased at metamorphic climax synchronously with establishment of the stomach’s proteolytic capacity and its increased peristaltic activity. Putative osmoregulatory competence of the GI-tract, inferred by abundance of Na+/K+-ATPase α transcripts, was already established at the onset of exogenous feeding and was unmodified by metamorphosis.
The functional specialization of the GI-tract was not exclusive to metamorphosis, and its osmoregulatory capacity and reservoir function were established before first feeding. Nonetheless, acid production and the proteolytic capacity of the stomach coincided with metamorphic climax, and also marked the onset of the stomach’s involvement in appetite regulation via ghrelin.
PMCID: PMC3940299  PMID: 24552353
Atlantic halibut; Gastric proton pump; Gastrointestinal tract; Ghrelin; Motility; Na+/K+-ATPase; Pepsinogen; Ontogeny; pH; Stomach
20.  Electroablation: a method for neurectomy and localized tissue injury 
Tissue injury has been employed to study diverse biological processes such as regeneration and inflammation. In addition to physical or surgical based methods for tissue injury, current protocols for localized tissue damage include laser and two-photon wounding, which allow a high degree of accuracy, but are expensive and difficult to apply. In contrast, electrical injury is a simple and inexpensive technique, which allows reproducible and localized cell or tissue damage in a variety of contexts.
We describe a novel technique that combines the advantages of zebrafish for in vivo visualization of cells with those of electrical injury methods in a simple and versatile protocol which allows the study of regeneration and inflammation. The source of the electrical pulse is a microelectrode that can be placed with precision adjacent to specific cells expressing fluorescent proteins. We demonstrate the use of this technique in zebrafish larvae by damaging different cell types and structures. Neurectomy can be carried out in peripheral nerves or in the spinal cord allowing the study of degeneration and regeneration of nerve fibers. We also apply this method for the ablation of single lateral line mechanosensory neuromasts, showing the utility of this approach as a tool for the study of organ regeneration. In addition, we show that electrical injury induces immune cell recruitment to damaged tissues, allowing in vivo studies of leukocyte dynamics during inflammation within a confined and localized injury. Finally, we show that it is possible to apply electroablation as a method of tissue injury and inflammation induction in adult fish.
Electrical injury using a fine microelectrode can be used for axotomy of neurons, as a general tissue ablation tool and as a method to induce a powerful inflammatory response. We demonstrate its utility to studies in both larvae and in adult zebrafish but we expect that this technique can be readily applied to other organisms as well. We have called this method of electrical based tissue ablation, electroablation.
PMCID: PMC3933190  PMID: 24528932
Axotomy; Neurectomy; Tissue ablation; Regeneration; Inflammation; Zebrafish
21.  Dual roles for ubiquitination in the processing of sperm organelles after fertilization 
The process of fertilization involves a cell fusion event between the sperm and oocyte. Although sperm contain mitochondria when they fuse with the oocyte, paternal mitochondrial genomes do not persist in offspring and, thus, mitochondrial inheritance is maternal in most animals. Recent evidence suggests that paternal mitochondria may be eliminated via autophagy after fertilization. In C. elegans, sperm-specific organelles called membraneous organelles (MO) cluster together with paternal mitochondria immediately after fertilization. These MOs but not the mitochondria become polyubiquitinated and associated with proteasomes. The current model for the elimination of paternal mitochondria in C. elegans is that ubiquitination of the MOs induces the formation of autophagosomes which also capture the mitochondria and cause their degradation.
Sperm-derived mitochondria and MOs show a sharp decrease in number during the time between sperm-oocyte fusion and the onset of mitosis. During this time, paternal mitochondria remain closely clustered with the MOs. Two types of polyubiquitin chains are observed on the MOs: K48-linked ubiquitin chains which are known to lead to proteasomal degradation and K63-linked ubiquitin chains which have been linked to autophagy. K48-linked ubiquitin chains and proteasomes show up on MOs very soon after sperm-oocyte fusion. These are present on MOs for only a short period of time. Maternal proteasomes localize to MOs and sperm proteasomes localize to structures that are at the periphery of the MO cluster suggesting that these two proteasome populations may have different roles in degrading paternal material. K63-linked ubiquitin chains appear on MOs early and remain throughout the first several cell divisions.
Since there are two different types of polyubiquitin chains associated with sperm organelles and their timing differs, it suggests that ubiquitin has two or more roles in the processing of sperm components after fertilization. The K63 chains potentially provide a signal for autophagy of paternal organelles, whereas the K48 chains and proteasomes may be involved in degradation of specific proteins.
PMCID: PMC3937010  PMID: 24528894
22.  Metabolomic insights into system-wide coordination of vertebrate metamorphosis 
After completion of embryogenesis, many organisms experience an additional obligatory developmental transition to attain a substantially different juvenile or adult form. During anuran metamorphosis, the aquatic tadpole undergoes drastic morphological changes and remodelling of tissues and organs to become a froglet. Thyroid hormones are required to initiate the process, but the mechanism whereby the many requisite changes are coordinated between organs and tissues is poorly understood. Metabolites are often highly conserved biomolecules between species and are the closest reflection of phenotype. Due to the extensive distribution of blood throughout the organism, examination of the metabolites contained therein provides a system-wide overview of the coordinated changes experienced during metamorphosis. We performed an untargeted metabolomic analysis on serum samples from naturally-metamorphosing Rana catesbeiana from tadpoles to froglets using ultraperformance liquid chromatography coupled to a mass spectrometer. Total and aqueous metabolite extracts were obtained from each serum sample to select for nonpolar and polar metabolites, respectively, and selected metabolites were validated by running authentic compounds.
The majority of the detected metabolites (74%) showed statistically significant abundance changes (padj < 0.001) between metamorphic stages. We observed extensive remodelling of five core metabolic pathways: arginine and purine/pyrimidine, cysteine/methionine, sphingolipid, and eicosanoid metabolism and the urea cycle, and found evidence for a major role for lipids during this postembryonic process. Metabolites traditionally linked to human disease states were found to have biological linkages to the system-wide changes occuring during the events leading up to overt morphological change.
To our knowledge, this is the first wide-scale metabolomic study of vertebrate metamorphosis identifying fundamental pathways involved in the coordination of this important developmental process and paves the way for metabolomic studies on other metamorphic systems including fish and insects.
PMCID: PMC3928663  PMID: 24495308
Postembryonic development; Thyroid hormone; Metamorphosis; Metabolites; Serum; Ultra-performance liquid chromatography; Quadrupole time-of-flight; Mass spectrometry; Vertebrate
23.  The natural insect peptide Neb-colloostatin induces ovarian atresia and apoptosis in the mealworm Tenebrio molitor 
The injection of Neb-colloostatin into T. molitor females causes gonadoinhibitory effects on ovarian development. This peptide inhibits intercellular space formation (patency) in follicular epithelium and results in slowed vitellogenesis, delayed ovulation, reduced number of eggs laid and presumably cell death in the terminal follicles. However, as does the form of cell death in the terminal follicle, the mode of action of Neb-colloostatin remains unknown.
We tested Neb-colloostatin for a sterilizing effect on females of Tenebrio molitor. We report that injection of nanomolar doses of Neb-colloostatin induce ovarian follicle atresia in 4-day old females during their first gonadotropic cycle. Light microscope observations revealed morphological changes in the ovary: after Neb-colloostatin injection the terminal oocytes are significantly smaller and elicit massive follicle resorption, but the control terminal follicles possess translucent ooplasm in oocytes at different stages of vitellogenesis. A patency is visible in follicular epithelium of the control vitellogenic oocytes, whereas peptide injection inhibits intercellular space formation and, in consequence, inhibits vitellogenesis. Confocal and electron microscope examination showed that peptide injection causes changes in the morphology indicating death of follicular cells. We observed F-actin cytoskeleton disorganization, induction of caspase activity, changes in chromatin organization and autophagic vacuole formation. Moreover, the apical cytoplasm of follicular cells is filled with numerous free ribosomes, probably indicating a higher demand for protein biosynthesis, especially in preparation for autophagic vacuole formation. On the other hand, the process of polyribosomes formation is inhibited, indicating the contributing effect of this hormone.
Neb-colloostatin induces atresia in the mealworm ovary. Degeneration of T. molitor follicles includes changes in morphology and viability of follicular cells, and oosorption as a consequence of these changes.
PMCID: PMC3909444  PMID: 24479487
Insect ovary; Neb-colloostatin; Gonadoinhibitory peptide; Follicle atresia; Apoptosis; Autophagy
24.  Distinct contextual roles for Notch signalling in skeletal muscle stem cells 
Notch signalling acts in virtually every tissue during the lifetime of metazoans. Recent studies have pointed to multiple roles for Notch in stem cells during quiescence, proliferation, temporal specification, and maintenance of the niche architecture. Skeletal muscle has served as an excellent paradigm to examine these diverse roles as embryonic, foetal, and adult skeletal muscle stem cells have different molecular signatures and functional properties, reflecting their developmental specification during ontology. Notably, Notch signalling has emerged as a major regulator of all muscle stem cells. This review will provide an overview of Notch signalling during myogenic development and postnatally, and underscore the seemingly opposing contextual activities of Notch that have lead to a reassessment of its role in myogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3903015  PMID: 24472470
Notch; Skeletal muscle; Quiescence; Regeneration
25.  Neural crest-specific deletion of Ldb1 leads to cleft secondary palate with impaired palatal shelf elevation 
LIM domain binding protein 1 (LDB1) is a transcriptional co-factor, which interacts with multiple transcription factors and other proteins containing LIM domains. Complete inactivation of Ldb1 in mice resulted in early embryonic lethality with severe patterning defects during gastrulation. Tissue-specific deletions using a conditional knockout allele revealed additional roles of Ldb1 in the development of the central nervous system, hematopoietic system, and limbs. The goal of the current study was to determine the importance of Ldb1 function during craniofacial development in mouse embryos.
We generated tissue-specific Ldb1 mutants using Wnt1-Cre, which causes deletion of a floxed allele in the neural crest; neural crest-derived cells contribute to most of the mesenchyme of the developing face. All examined Wnt1-Cre;Ldb1 fl/- mutants suffered from cleft secondary palate. Therefore, we performed a series of experiments to investigate how Ldb1 regulated palate development. First, we examined the expression of Ldb1 during normal development, and found that Ldb1 was expressed broadly in the palatal mesenchyme during early stages of palate development. Second, we compared the morphology of the developing palate in control and Ldb1 mutant embryos using sections. We found that the mutant palatal shelves had abnormally blunt appearance, and failed to elevate above the tongue at the posterior domain. An in vitro head culture experiment indicated that the elevation defect was not due to interference by the tongue. Finally, in the Ldb1 mutant palatal shelves, cell proliferation was abnormal in the anterior, and the expression of Wnt5a, Pax9 and Osr2, which regulate palatal shelf elevation, was also altered.
The function of Ldb1 in the neural crest-derived palatal mesenchyme is essential for normal morphogenesis of the secondary palate.
PMCID: PMC3899388  PMID: 24433583
Cleft palate; Craniofacial development; LDB1

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