Magoh encodes a core component of the exon junction complex (EJC), which binds mRNA and regulates mRNA metabolism. Magoh is highly expressed in proliferative tissues during development. EJC components have been implicated in several developmental disorders including TAR syndrome, Richieri-Costa-Pereira Syndrome, and intellectual disability. Existing germline null Magoh mice are embryonic lethal as homozygotes and perinatal lethal as heterozygotes, precluding detailed analysis of embryonic and postnatal functions. Here we report the generation of a new genetic tool to dissect temporal and tissue specific roles for Magoh in development and adult homeostasis. This Magoh conditional allele has two LoxP sites flanking the second exon. Ubiquitous Cre-mediated deletion of the floxed allele in a heterozygous mouse (Magohdel/+) causes 50% reduction of both Magoh mRNA and protein. Magohdel/+ mice exhibit both microcephaly and hypopigmentation, thus phenocopying germline haploinsufficient Magoh mice. Using Emx1-Cre, we further show that conditional Magoh deletion in neural progenitors during embryonic development also causes microcephaly. We anticipate this novel conditional allele will be a valuable tool for assessing tissue specific roles for Magoh in mammalian development and postnatal processes.
Conditional allele; microcephaly; Magoh; exon junction complex; cre; lox
ADAMTS9 is the most conserved member of a large family of secreted metalloproteases having diverse functions. Adamts9 null mice die before gastrulation, precluding investigations of its roles later in embryogenesis, in adult mice or disease models. We therefore generated a floxed Adamts9 allele to bypass embryonic lethality. In this mutant, unidirectional loxP sites flank exons 5 through 8, which encode the catalytic domain, including the protease active site. Mice homozygous for the floxed allele were viable, lacked an overt phenotype, and were fertile. Conversely, mice homozygous for a germ-line deletion produced from the floxed allele by Cre-lox recombination did not survive past gastrulation. Hemizygosity of the deleted Adamts9 in combination with mutant Adamts20 led to cleft palate and severe white spotting as previously described. Previously, Adamts9 haploinsufficiency combined with either Adamts20 or Adamts5 nullizygosity suggested a cooperative role in interdigital web regression, but the outcome of deletion of Adamts9 alone remained unknown. Here, Adamts9 was conditionally deleted in limb mesoderm using Prx1-Cre mice. Unlike other ADAMTS single knockouts, limb-specific Adamts9 deletion resulted in soft-tissue syndactyly (STS) with 100% penetrance and concurrent deletion of Adamts5 increased the severity of STS. Thus, Adamts9 has both non-redundant and cooperative roles in ensuring interdigital web regression. This new allele will be useful for investigating other biological functions of ADAMTS9.
A disintegrin-like and metalloprotease domain with thrombospondin type 1 motifs 9; soft tissue syndactyly; interdigital web; apoptosis; Prx1-Cre; floxed; cleft palate; melanoblast
Epidermal growth factor-like domain 7 (Egfl7) expression in the developing embryo is largely restricted to sites of mesodermal progenitors of angioblasts/hemangioblasts and the vascular endothelium. We hypothesize that Egfl7 marks the endothelial lineage during embryonic development, and can be used to define the emergence of endothelial progenitor cells, as well as to visualize newly forming vasculature in the embryo and during the processes of physiological and pathological angiogenesis in the adult. We have generated a transgenic mouse strain that expresses enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) under the control of a minimal Egfl7 regulatory sequence (Egfl7:eGFP). Expression of the transgene recapitulated that of endogenous Egfl7 at sites of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis in the allantois, yolk sac, and in the embryo proper. The transgene was not expressed in the quiescent endothelium of most adult organs. However, the uterus and ovary, which undergo vascular growth and remodeling throughout the estrus cycle, expressed high levels of Egfl7:eGFP. Importantly, expression of the Egfl7:eGFP transgene was induced in adult neovasculature. We also found that increased Egfl7 expression contributed to pathological revascularization in the mouse retina. To our knowledge, this is first mouse model that enables monitoring endothelial cells at sites of active vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. This model also facilitated the isolation and characterization of EGFL7+ endothelial cell populations by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). Together, our results demonstrate that the Egfl7:eGFP reporter mouse is a valuable tool that can be used to elucidate the mechanisms by which blood vessels form during development and under pathologic circumstances.
endothelial reporter; eGFP; transgenic mice; vascular development
The role of the habenular nuclei in modulating fear and reward pathways has sparked a renewed interest in this conserved forebrain region. The bilaterally paired habenular nuclei, each consisting of a medial/dorsal and lateral/ventral nucleus, can be further divided into discrete subdomains whose neuronal populations, precise connectivity and specific functions are not well understood. An added complexity is that the left and right habenulae show pronounced morphological differences in many non-mammalian species. Notably, the dorsal habenulae of larval zebrafish provide a vertebrate genetic model to probe the development and functional significance of brain asymmetry. Previous reports have described a number of genes that are expressed in the zebrafish habenulae, either in bilaterally symmetric patterns or more extensively on one side of the brain than the other. The goal of our study was to generate a comprehensive map of the zebrafish dorsal habenular nuclei, by delineating the relationship between gene expression domains, comparing the extent of left-right asymmetry at larval and adult stages, and identifying potentially functional subnuclear regions as defined by neurotransmitter phenotype. While many aspects of habenular organization appear conserved with rodents, the zebrafish habenulae also possess unique properties that may underlie lateralization of their functions.
Epithalamus; Left-right asymmetry; habenula; interpeduncular nucleus; somatostatin; ano2; mbnl3; gng8
Anatomical left-right (L/R) handedness asymmetry in C. elegans is established in the four-cell embryo as a result of anteroposterior skewing of transverse mitotic spindles with a defined handedness. This event creates a chiral embryo and ultimately an adult body plan with fixed L/R positioning of internal organs and components of the nervous system. While this “dextral” configuration is invariant in hermaphrodites, it can be reversed by physical manipulation of the early embryo or by mutations that interfere with mitotic spindle orientation, which leads to viable, mirror-reversed (sinistral) animals. During normal development of the C. elegans male, the gonad develops on the right of the midline, with the gut bilaterally apposed on the left. However, we found that in males of the laboratory N2 strain and Hawaiian (“Hw”) wild isolate, the gut/gonad asymmetry is frequently reversed in a temperature-dependent manner, independent of normal embryonic chirality. We also observed sporadic errors in gonad migration occurring naturally during early larval stages of these and other wild strains; however, the incidence of such errors does not correlate with the frequency of L/R gut/gonad reversals in these strains. Analysis of N2/Hw hybrids and recombinant inbred advanced intercross lines (RIAILs) indicate that the L/R organ reversals are likely to result from recessively acting variations in multiple genes. Thus, unlike the highly reproducible L/R asymmetries of most structures in hermaphrodites, the L/R asymmetry of the male C. elegans body plan is less rigidly determined and subject to natural variation that is influenced by a multiplicity of genes.
wild isolate; gonad migration; RIAIL; genetic heterogeneity; natural variation; gpa-16
Asymmetries in the nervous system have been observed throughout the animal kingdom. Deviations of brain asymmetries are associated with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders; however, there has been limited progress in determining how normal asymmetry is established in vertebrates. In the C. elegans chemosensory system, two pairs of morphologically symmetrical neurons exhibit molecular and functional asymmetries. This review focuses on the development of antisymmetry of the pair of AWC olfactory neurons, from transcriptional regulation of general cell identity, establishment of asymmetry through neural network formation and calcium signaling, to the maintenance of asymmetry throughout the life of the animal. Many of the factors that are involved in AWC development have homologs in vertebrates, which may potentially function in the development of vertebrate brain asymmetry.
AWC neurons; left-right asymmetry; stochasticity; gap junctions; calcium signaling; nematode
Transgenic mice were generated using a heat shock protein 2 (Hspa2) gene promoter to express green fluorescent protein (GFP) at the beginning of meiotic prophase I in spermatocytes. Expression was confirmed in four lines by in situ fluorescence, immunohistochemistry, western blotting, and PCR assays. The expression and distribution of the GFP and HSPA2 proteins co-localized in spermatocytes and spermatids in three lines, but GFP expression was variegated in one line (F46), being present in some clones of meiotic and post-meiotic germ cells and not in others. Fluorescence-activated cell-sorting (FACS) was used to isolate purified populations of spermatocytes and spermatids. Although bisulfite sequencing revealed differences in the DNA methylation patterns in the promoter regions of the transgene of the variegated expressing GFP line, a uniformly expressing GFP reporter line, and the Hspa2 gene, these differences did not correlate with variegated expression. The Hspa2-GFP reporter mice provide a novel tool for studies of meiosis by allowing detection of GFP in situ and in isolated spermatogenic cells. They will allow sorting of meiotic and post-meiotic germ cells for characterization of molecular features and correlation of expression of GFP with stage-specific spermatogenic cell proteins and developmental events.
spermatogenesis; heat shock protein; variegated gene expression; fluorescence activated cell sorting
We report the generation of five mouse strains with the tamoxifen-inducible Cre (Cre-ERT2; CE) gene cassette knocked into the endogenous loci of Pax3, Myod1, Myog, Myf6, and Myl1, collectively as a resource for the skeletal muscle research community. We characterized these CE strains using the Cre reporter mice, R26RLacZ, during embryogenesis and show that they direct tightly controlled tamoxifen-inducible reporter expression within the expected cell lineage determined by each myogenic gene. We also examined a few selected adult skeletal muscle groups for tamoxifeninducible reporter expression. None of these new CE alleles direct reporter expression in the cardiac muscle. All these alleles follow the same knock-in strategy by replacing the first exon of each gene with the CE cassette, rendering them null alleles of the endogenous gene. Advantages and disadvantages of this design are discussed. Although we describe potential immediate use of these strains, their utility likely extends beyond foreseeable questions in skeletal muscle biology.
somite; limb; myogenesis; embryonic development; cell marking; lineage tracing; conditional knock-out
A central unresolved question in the molecular cascade that drives establishment of left–right (LR) asymmetry in vertebrates are the mechanisms deployed to relay information between the midline site of symmetry-breaking and the tissues which will execute a program of asymmetric morphogenesis. The cells located between these two distant locations must provide the medium for signal relay. Of these, the gut endoderm is an attractive candidate tissue for signal transmission since it comprises the epithelium that lies between the node, where asymmetry originates, and the lateral plate, where asymmetry can first be detected. Here, focusing on the mouse as a model, we review our current understanding and entertain open questions concerning the relay of LR information from its origin. genesis 52:503–514, 2014.
mouse embryo; LR asymmetry; gastrulation; gut endoderm; node; midline; lateral plate mesoderm; Nodal; Sox17; gap junction intercellular communication; Connexin; extracellular matrix
Mixl1 is the only member of the Mix/Bix homeobox gene family identified in mammals. During mouse embryogenesis, Mixl1 is first expressed at embryonic day (E)5.5 in cells of the visceral endoderm (VE). At the time of gastrulation, Mixl1 expression is detected in the vicinity of the primitive streak. Mixl1 is expressed in cells located within the primitive streak, in nascent mesoderm cells exiting the primitive streak, and in posterior VE overlying the primitive streak. Genetic ablation of Mixl1 in mice has revealed its crucial role in mesoderm and endoderm cell specification and tissue morphogenesis during early embryonic development. However, the early lethality of the constitutive Mixl1−/− mutant precludes the study of its role at later stages of embryogenesis and in adult mice. To circumvent this limitation, we have generated a conditional Mixl1 allele (Mixl1cKO) that permits temporal as well as spatial control of gene ablation. Animals homozygous for the Mixl1cKO conditional allele were viable and fertile. Mixl1KO/KO embryos generated by crossing of Mixl1cKO/cKO mice with Sox2-Cre or EIIa-Cre transgenic mice were embryonic lethal at early somite stages. By contrast to wild-type embryos, Mixl1KO/KO embryos contained no detectable Mixl1, validating the Mixl1cKO as a protein null after Cre-mediated excision. Mixl1KO/KO embryos resembled the previously reported Mixl1−/− mutant phenotype. Therefore, the Mixl1 cKO allele provides a tool for investigating the temporal and tissue-specific requirements for Mixl1 in the mouse.
transcription factor; homeodomain; homeobox; Mixl1; primitive streak; gastrulation; mesoderm; endoderm
In this report, we have adapted a lentiviral gene delivery technique for genetic modification of the rat trophoblast cell lineage. Blastocysts were incubated with lentiviral particles and transferred into the uteri of pseudopregnant female rats, harvested at various times during gestation, and then analyzed. Two test systems were evaluated: 1) delivery of an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene under the control of constitutive promoters to rat blastocysts; 2) delivery of EGFP short hairpin RNA (shRNA) to rat blastocysts constitutively expressing EGFP. Lentiviral packaged gene constructs were efficiently and specifically delivered to all trophoblast cell lineages. Additionally, lentiviral mediated transfer of shRNAs was an effective strategy for modifying gene expression in trophoblast cell lineages. This technique will permit the in vivo evaluation of ‘gain-of-function’ and ‘loss-of-function’ manipulations in the rat trophoblast cell lineage.
The transcription factor Foxj1 is expressed by cells destined to differentiate into epithelial cells projecting motile cilia into fluid- or air- filled cavities. Here we report the generation of an inducible knock-in Foxj1CreERT2::GFP mouse which we show reliably induces Cre-mediated recombination for genetic studies in epithelial cells with motile cilia throughout embryonic and postnatal development. Induction during embryonic stages revealed efficient recombination in the epithelial component of the choroid plexus in the developing brain as early as E12.5. Induction during late embryonic stages showed confined recombination not only in the choroid plexus, but also in the ventricular walls of the brain. Recombination induced during postnatal periods expanded to include epithelia of the lungs, testis, oviduct, and brain. Using these mice, we confirmed our recent discovery of a perinatally derived neuronal population in the mouse olfactory bulbs which is derived from the Foxj1 lineage. Our Foxj1CreERT2::GFP knock-in mouse will be a powerful tool for studying molecular mechanisms associated with the continuum of cells that form the Foxj1 lineage, and for assessing their physiological significance during development and aging.
Foxj1; CreERT2::GFP; knock-in; ependymal cells; motile cilia; epithelial cells
Migration and anchorage of nuclei within developing and adult tissues rely on Linkers of the Nucleoskeleton to the Cytoskeleton (LINC complexes). These macromolecular assemblies span the nuclear envelope and physically couple chromatin and nuclear lamina to cytoplasmic cytoskeletal networks. LINC complexes assemble within the perinuclear space through direct interactions between the respective evolutionary-conserved SUN and KASH domains of Sun proteins, which reside within the inner nuclear membrane, and Nesprins, which reside within the outer nuclear membrane. Here, we describe and validate a dominant-negative transgenic strategy allowing for the disruption of endogenous SUN/KASH interactions through the inducible expression of a recombinant KASH domain. Our approach, which is based on the Cre/Lox system, allows for the targeted disruption of LINC complexes in a wide array of mouse tissues or specific cell types thereof and bypasses the perinatal lethality and potential cell nonautonomous effects of current mouse models based on germline inactivation of genes encoding Sun proteins and Nesprins. For these reasons, this mouse model provides a useful tool to evaluate the physiological relevance of LINC complexes integrity during development and homeostasis in a wide array of mammalian tissues.
Nesprin; Sun proteins; LINC complex; KASH domain; SUN domain
Senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) activity is widely used as a marker of cellular senescence and as an indicator of organismal aging. Here we report that SA-β-gal activity is present in the visceral endoderm layer of early post-implantation mouse embryos in predictable patterns that vary as the embryo progresses in development. However, determination of the mitotic index and analysis of the expression of Cdkn1a (p21), a marker of senescent cells, do not indicate cellular senescence. Instead, analysis of embryos in culture revealed the presence of SA-βgal activity in apical vacuoles of visceral endoderm cells likely a reflection of acidic β-galactosidase function in these organelles. This feature serves as a practical marker of the dynamics of the visceral endoderm that can be applied to developmental as well as functional studies of early mammalian embryos.
Mouse; embryo; SA-β-gal; yolk sac; apical vacuoles
Myelinogenesis is a complex process that involves substantial and dynamic changes in plasma membrane architecture and myelin interaction with axons. Highly ramified processes of oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system (CNS) make axonal contact and then extrapolate to wrap around axons and form multilayer compact myelin sheathes. Currently, the mechanisms governing myelin sheath assembly and axon selection by myelinating cells are not fully understood. Here, we generated a transgenic mouse line expressing the membrane-anchored green fluorescent protein (mEGFP) in myelinating cells, which allow live imaging of details of myelinogenesis and cellular behaviors in the nervous systems. mEGFP expression is driven by the promoter of 2′-3′-cyclic nucleotide 3′-phosphodiesterase (CNP) that is expressed in the myelinating cell lineage. Robust mEGFP signals appear in the membrane processes of oligodendrocytes in the CNS and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS), wherein mEGFP expression defines the inner layers of myelin sheaths and Schmidt-Lanterman incisures in adult sciatic nerves. In addition, mEGFP expression can be used to track the extent of remyelination after demyelinating injury in a toxin-induced demyelination animal model. Taken together, the membrane-anchored mEGFP expression in the new transgenic line would facilitate direct visualization of dynamic myelin membrane formation and assembly during development and process remodeling during remyelination after various demyelinating injuries.
myelinogenesis; in vivo imaging; spatiotemporal expression; transgenic reporter; developmental dynamics; mammalian nervous system
As neural stem cells differentiate into neurons during neurogenesis, the proteome of the cells is restructured by de novo expression and selective removal of regulatory proteins. The control of neurogenesis at the level of gene regulation is well documented and the regulation of protein abundance through protein degradation via the Ubiquitin/26S proteasome pathway is a rapidly developing field. This review describes our current understanding of role of the proteasome pathway in neurogenesis. Collectively, the studies show that targeted protein degradation is an important regulatory mechanism in the generation of new neurons.
ubiquitin ligase; F-box proteins; neurogenesis; neural induction
We demonstrate enhanced transgenesis in mice by intracytoplasmic injection of envelope-free lentivirus. Envelope-free lentivirus carrying the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene under the control of the ubiquitin promoter (LVU-GFP) was microinjected into the cytoplasm of mouse zygotes prior to embryo transfer. Ninety-seven percent (31/32) of the adult mice were confirmed transgenic by PCR and Southern blot analysis; all founder mice express GFP when tail snips were examined by fluorescent microscopy prior to genomic DNA extraction. Transgene insertion numbers ranging from 1 to 32 were revealed by Southern blot analysis. Germline transmission was confirmed by the presence of transgene in F1 offspring. As expected, a lower transgenic rate (2.2%; 1/46) resulted when envelope-free LVU-GFP was microinjected into the perivitelline space (PVS) because cell recognition followed by membrane fusion between the viral envelope and the target cell is prerequisite for successful infection by envelope viruses. Here we demonstrate the competence of envelope-free lentivirus in establishing stable gene integration by germline transgenesis in mice at high efficiency, by intracytoplasmic viral injection (INVI) of envelope-free lentivirus into mouse zygotes.
transgenesis; intracytoplasmic injection; bald lentivirus; pseudotype lentivirus; blastomere gene transfer
Lentiviral gene transfer has a significant impact on the development of biomedical research. One of the most important features of lentiviruses is the capability to infect both dividing and nondividing cells. However, little is known whether integration preference exists, specifically in early embryos. An in-depth genome analysis on 112 independent lentiviral integration sites from 43 transgenic founder mice was performed to determine if there are preferable sites for lentiviral integration in early embryonic genome. Our results demonstrated that lentiviruses were biased in integrating within intragenic regions, especially in the introns. However, no integration preference was found associated with specific chromosomes, repetitive elements, or CpG islands, nor was there any preference for integrating at close proximity to transcription start sites. Our findings suggested that lentiviruses were biased to integrate into the intragenic regions of early embryonic genome of mouse.
lentiviral vector; transgenesis; integration preference; genome; mouse zygote
A novel transgenic mouse line that expresses codon-improved Cre recombinase (iCre) under regulation of the Endothelin-2 gene (edn2) promoter was developed for the conditional deletion of genes in Endothelin-2 lineage cells and for the spatial and temporal localization of Endothelin-2 expression. Endothelin-2 (EDN2, ET-2, previously VIC) is a transcriptionally regulated 21 amino acid peptide implicated in vascular homeostasis, and more recently in female reproduction, gastrointestinal function, immunology, and cancer pathogenesis that acts through membrane receptors and G-protein signaling. A cassette (edn2-iCre) was constructed that contained iCre, a polyadenylation sequence, and a neomycin selection marker in front of the endogenous start codon of the edn2 gene in a mouse genome BAC clone. The cassette was introduced into the C57BL/6 genome by pronuclear injection, and two lines of edn2-iCre positive mice were produced. The edn2-iCre mice were bred with ROSA26-lacZ and Ai9 reporter mice to visualize areas of functional iCre expression. Strong expression was seen in the periovulatory ovary, stomach and small intestine, and colon. Uniquely, we report punctate expression in the corneal epithelium, the liver, the lung, the pituitary, the uterus, and the heart. In the embryo, expression is localized in developing hair follicles and the dermis. Therefore, edn2-iCre mice will serve as a novel line for conditional gene deletion in these tissues.
Endothelin-2; Cre recombinase; Transgenic; Ovary; BAC Clone
It is a challenge to understand how the information encoded in DNA is used to build a three dimensional structure. To explore how this works the assembly of a relatively simple skeleton has been examined at multiple control levels. The skeleton of the sea urchin embryo consists of a number of calcite rods produced by 64 skeletogenic cells. The ectoderm supplies spatial cues for patterning, essentially telling the skeletogenic cells where to position themselves and providing the factors for skeletal growth. Here we describe the information known about how this works. First the ectoderm must be patterned so that the signaling cues are released from precise positions. The skeletogenic cells respond by initiating skeletogenesis immediately beneath two regions (one on the right and the other on the left side). Growth of the skeletal rods requires additional signaling from defined ectodermal locations, and the skeletogenic cells respond to produce a membrane-bound template in which the calcite crystal grows. Important in this process are three signals, FGF, VEGF, and Wnt5. Each is necessary for explicit tasks in skeleton production.
VEGF; FGF; Wnt5; calcite; skeleton patterning
Nanos is an essential factor of germ line success in all animals tested. This gene encodes a Zn-finger RNA-binding protein that in complex with its partner pumilio, binds to and changes the fate of several known transcripts. We summarize here the documented functions of nanos in several key organisms, and then emphasize echinoderms as a working model for how nanos expression is regulated. Nanos presence outside of the target cells is often detrimental to the animal, and in sea urchins, nanos expression appears to be regulated at every step of transcription, and post-transcriptional activity, making this gene product exciting, every which way.
Sea urchin; Starfish; Sea star; Primordial germ cells; Germ line
The rodent incisor is one of a number of organs that grow continuously throughout the life of an animal. Continuous growth of the incisor arose as an evolutionary adaptation to compensate for abrasion at the distal end of the tooth. The sustained turnover of cells that deposit the mineralized dental tissues is made possible by epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells residing at the proximal end of the incisor. A complex network of signaling pathways and transcription factors regulates the formation, maintenance, and differentiation of these stem cells during development and throughout adulthood. Research over the past 15 years has led to significant progress in our understanding of this network, which includes FGF, BMP, Notch, and Hh signaling, as well as cell adhesion molecules and microRNAs. This review surveys key historical experiments that laid the foundation of the field and discusses more recent findings that definitively identified the stem cell population, elucidated the regulatory network, and demonstrated possible genetic mechanisms for the evolution of continuously growing teeth.
hypselodont; tissue regeneration; tooth; dental; renewal
Tunicates are invertebrate members of the chordate phylum, and are considered to be the sister group of vertebrates. Tunicates are composed of ascidians, thaliaceans, and appendicularians. With the advent of inexpensive high-throughput sequencing, the number of sequenced tunicate genomes is expected to rise sharply within the coming years. To facilitate comparative genomics within the tunicates, and between tunicates and vertebrates, standardized rules for the nomenclature of tunicate genetic elements need to be established. Here we propose a set of nomenclature rules, consensual within the community, for predicted genes, pseudogenes, transcripts, operons, transcriptional cis-regulatory regions, transposable elements, and transgenic constructs. In addition, the document proposes guidelines for naming transgenic and mutant lines.
tunicates; genome annotation; gene; transposable element; cis-regulatory sequences