Early psychologists, including Galton, Cattell, and Spearman proposed that intelligence and simple sensory discriminations are constrained by common neural processes, predicting a close link between them [1, 2]. However, strong supporting evidence for this hypothesis remains elusive. Although people with higher intelligence quotients (IQs) are quicker at processing sensory stimuli [1–5], these broadly replicated findings explain a relatively modest proportion of variance in IQ. Processing speed alone is, arguably, a poor match for the information processing demands on the neural system. Our brains operate on overwhelming amounts of information [6, 7], and thus their efficiency is fundamentally constrained by an ability to suppress irrelevant information [8–21]. Here, we show that individual variability in a simple visual discrimination task that reflects both processing speed and perceptual suppression  strongly correlates with IQ. High IQ individuals, although quick at perceiving small moving objects, exhibit disproportionately large impairments in perceiving motion as stimulus size increases. These findings link intelligence with low-level sensory suppression of large moving patterns—background-like stimuli that are ecologically less relevant [22–25]. We conjecture that the ability to suppress irrelevant and rapidly process relevant information fundamentally constrains both sensory discriminations and intelligence, providing an information-processing basis for the observed link.
Recently we identified a relationship between human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) and human salivary gland (SG) mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) in over 90% of cases; tumorigenesis in these cases uniformly correlated with active hCMV protein expression and an upregulation of the EGFR → ERK pathway. Our previously characterized, novel mouse organ culture model of mouse CMV (mCMV)-induced tumorigenesis displays a number of histologic and molecular characteristics similar to human MEC.
Newborn mouse submandibular glands (SMGs) were incubated with 1 × 105 PFU/ml of lacZ-tagged mCMV RM427+ on day 0 for 24 hours and then cultured in virus-free media for a total of 6 or 12 days with or without EGFR/ERK inhibitors and/or aciclovir. SMGs were collected for histology, immunolocalization (pERK, FN, IL-6), viral distribution, or Western blot analysis (pERK).
Here we report: (1) mouse SMG tumors soon exhibit an acquired resistance to EGFR/ERK pathway kinase inhibitors, alone or in combination; (2) long term tumor regression can only be sustained by concurrent inhibitor and antiviral treatment; (3) CMV-dependent, kinase inhibitor resistance is associated with overexpression of fibronectin and IL-6 proteins in abnormal stromal cells.
Acquired resistance to kinase inhibitors is dependent upon CMV dysregulation of alternative pathways with downstream effectors common with the targeted pathway, a phenomenon with important therapeutic implications for human MEC of salivary glands.
Cytomegalovirus; Salivary gland; Tumorigenesis; EGFR; ERK; Fibronectin; Interleukin 6
As with other herpesviruses, human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) has the ability to establish lifelong persistence and latent infection following primary exposure, salivary glands (SMGs) being the primary site of both. In the immunocompromised patient, hCMV is a common cause of opportunistic infections, and subsequent morbidity and mortality. Elucidating the molecular pathogenesis of CMV-induced disease is critical to the development of more effective and safer drug therapies. In the present study, we used a novel mouse postnatal SMG organ culture model of mCMV-induced dysplasia to investigate a candidate signaling network suggested by our prior studies (COX-2/AREG/EGFR/ERK). The objective was to employ small molecule inhibitors to target several key steps in the autocrine loop, and in this way ameliorate pathology. Our results indicate that upregulation of ERK phosphorylation is necessary for initial mCMV-induced pathogenesis, and that ErbB receptor family phosphorylation and downstream signaling are highly relevant targets for drug discovery.
cytomegalovirus; CMV-induced pathology; COX-2; Amphiregulin; EGF receptor; ERK
Dysregulation of the transcription factor CRTC1 by a t(11;19) chromosomal rearrangement mediates the formation of mucoepidermoid salivary gland carcinoma (MEC). Although the Crtc1 promoter is consistently active in fusion-positive MEC and low levels of Crtc1 transcripts have been reported in normal adult salivary glands, the distribution of CRTC1 protein in the normal salivary gland is not known. The aim of this study was to determine if CRTC1, like many known oncogenes, is expressed during early submandibular salivary gland (SMG) development and re-expressed in an experimental tumor model. Our results indicate that CRTC1 protein is expressed in SMG epithelia during early stages of morphogenesis, disappears with differentiation, and reappears in initial tumor-like pathology. This stage-dependent expression pattern suggests that CRTC1 may play a role during embryonic SMG branching morphogenesis but not for pro-acinar/acinar differentiation, supporting a precursor cell origin for MEC tumorigenesis. Moreover, the coincident expression of CRTC1 protein and cell proliferation markers in tumor-like histopathology suggests that CRTC1-mediated cell proliferation may contribute, in part, to initial tumor formation.
CREB coactivator; CRTC1; salivary glands; development; tumorigenesis; cell proliferation; mucoepidermoid carcinoma
Akt represents a nodal point between the Insulin receptor and TOR signaling, and its activation by phosphorylation controls cell proliferation, cell size, and metabolism. The activity of Akt must be carefully balanced, as increased Akt signaling is frequently associated with cancer and as insufficient Akt signaling is linked to metabolic disease and diabetes mellitus. Using a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila cells in culture, and in vivo analyses in the third instar wing imaginal disc, we studied the regulatory circuitries that define dAkt activation. We provide evidence that negative feedback regulation of dAkt occurs during normal Drosophila development in vivo. Whereas in cell culture dAkt is regulated by S6 Kinase (S6K)–dependent negative feedback, this feedback inhibition only plays a minor role in vivo. In contrast, dAkt activation under wild-type conditions is defined by feedback inhibition that depends on TOR Complex 1 (TORC1), but is S6K–independent. This feedback inhibition is switched from TORC1 to S6K only in the context of enhanced TORC1 activity, as triggered by mutations in tsc2. These results illustrate how the Akt–TOR pathway dynamically adapts the routing of negative feedback in response to the activity load of its signaling circuit in vivo.
The development of multi-cellular organisms depends on the precise choreography of a diverse array of signal transduction pathways. This requires balanced regulation by activating as well as repressing signals. Negative feedback, defined as a signaling response counteracting the stimulus, is a frequently used mechanism to dampen signaling pathway activity. Accordingly, loss of negative feedback is often observed during progression of cancer, while constitutive engagement of negative feedback contributes to chronic loss-of-function phenotypes. Ectopic activation of the Akt–TOR pathway is frequently associated with tumor susceptibility and cancer and contributes to obesity-induced metabolic disease and type II diabetes. Using Drosophila cell culture and the developing fly, we dissect the regulatory circuitry defining negative feedback regulation of dAkt. Our work shows that dAkt activity is regulated by two qualitatively different negative feedback mechanisms and that the activity level of the dAkt pathway dictates which feedback mechanism is utilized. Under normal physiological activity conditions, we observe a feedback mechanism that is dependent on TOR complex 1, but independent of S6K. Under conditions of pathological high pathway activity, we observe an S6K–dependent negative feedback mechanism. Our identification of a quantitative-to-qualitative switch in dAkt–TOR negative feedback signaling might have important implications in the biology of cancer and metabolic diseases.
Ectodysplasin-A appears to be a critical component of branching morphogenesis. Mutations in mouse Eda or human EDA are associated with absent or hypoplastic sweat glands, sebaceous glands, lacrimal glands, salivary glands (SMGs), mammary glands and/or nipples, and mucous glands of the bronchial, esophageal and colonic mucosa. In this study, we utilized EdaTa (Tabby) mutant mice to investigate how a marked reduction in functional Eda propagates with time through a defined genetic subcircuit and to test the proposition that canonical NFκB signaling is sufficient to account for the differential expression of developmentally regulated genes in the context of Eda polymorphism.
The quantitative systems analyses do not support the stated hypothesis. For most NFκB-regulated genes, the observed time course of gene expression is nearly unchanged in Tabby (EdaTa) as compared to wildtype mice, as is NFκB itself. Importantly, a subset of genes is dramatically differentially expressed in Tabby (Edar, Fgf8, Shh, Egf, Tgfa, Egfr), strongly suggesting the existence of an alternative Eda-mediated transcriptional pathway pivotal for SMG ontogeny. Experimental and in silico investigations have identified C/EBPα as a promising candidate.
In Tabby SMGs, upregulation of the Egf/Tgfα/Egfr pathway appears to mitigate the potentially severe abnormal phenotype predicted by the downregulation of Fgf8 and Shh. Others have suggested that the buffering of the phenotypic outcome that is coincident with variant Eda signaling could be a common mechanism that permits viable and diverse phenotypes, normal and abnormal. Our results support this proposition. Further, if branching epithelia use variations of a canonical developmental program, our results are likely applicable to understanding the phenotypes of other branching organs affected by Eda (EDA) mutation.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the most common causes of major birth defects in humans. Of the approximately 8400 children born each year in the U.S. with CMV-induced birth defects, more than 1/3 of these children exhibit hypoplasia and hypocalcification of tooth enamel. Our objective was to initiate the investigation of the pathogenesis of CMV-induced tooth defects.
Mouse Cap stage mandibular first molars were infected with mouse CMV (mCMV) in vitro in a chemically-defined organ culture system and analysed utilising histological and immunolocalisation methodologies. The antiviral, acyclovir, was used to inhibit mCMV replication and comparisons made between mCMV-infected and acyclovir-treated, mCMV-infected teeth.
Active infection of Cap stage molars for up to 15 days in vitro results in smaller, developmentally-delayed and dysmorphic molars characterised by shallow, broad and misshapen cusps, infected and affected dental papilla mesenchyme, poorly differentiated odontoblasts and ameloblasts, and no dentin matrix. Initial protein localisation studies suggest that the pathogenesis is mediated through NF-κB signaling and that there appears to be an unusual interaction between abnormal mesenchymal cells and surrounding matrix. Rescue with acyclovir indicates that mCMV replication is necessary to initiate and sustain progressive tooth dysmorphogenesis.
Our results indicate that mCMV-induced changes in signaling pathways severely delays, but does not completely interrupt, tooth morphogenesis. Importantly, our results demonstrate that this well-defined embryonic mouse organ culture system can be utilised to delineate the molecular mechanism underlying the CMV-induced tooth defects that characterise the amelogenesis imperfecta phenocopy seen in many CMV-infected children.
Odontogenesis; Cytomegalovirus; Amelogenesis imperfecta; Fibronectin; NF-κB; β-Catenin
Human clinical studies and mouse models clearly demonstrate that cytomegalovirus (CMV) disrupts normal organ and tissue development. Although CMV is one of the most common causes of major birth defects in humans, little is presently known about the mechanism(s) underlying CMV-induced congenital malformations. Our prior studies have demonstrated that CMV infection of first branchial arch derivatives (salivary glands and teeth) induced severely abnormal phenotypes and that CMV has a particular tropism for neural crest-derived mesenchyme (NCM). Since early embryos are barely susceptible to CMV infection, and the extant evidence suggests that the differentiation program needs to be well underway for embryonic tissues to be susceptible to viral infection and viral-induced pathology, the aim of this study was to determine if first branchial arch NCM cells are susceptible to mCMV infection prior to differentiation of NCM derivatives.
E11 mouse mandibular processes (MANs) were infected with mouse CMV (mCMV) for up to 16 days in vitro. mCMV infection of undifferentiated embryonic mouse MANs induced micrognathia consequent to decreased Meckel's cartilage chondrogenesis and mandibular osteogenesis. Specifically, mCMV infection resulted in aberrant stromal cellularity, a smaller, misshapen Meckel's cartilage, and mandibular bone and condylar dysmorphogenesis. Analysis of viral distribution indicates that mCMV primarily infects NCM cells and derivatives. Initial localization studies indicate that mCMV infection changed the cell-specific expression of FN, NF-κB2, RelA, RelB, and Shh and Smad7 proteins.
Our results indicate that mCMV dysregulation of key signaling pathways in primarily NCM cells and their derivatives severely disrupts mandibular morphogenesis and skeletogenesis. The pathogenesis appears to be centered around the canonical and noncanonical NF-κB pathways, and there is unusual juxtaposition of abnormal stromal cells and surrounding matrix. Moreover, since it is critically important that signaling molecules are expressed in appropriate cell populations during development, the aberrant localization of components of relevant signaling pathways may reveal the pathogenic mechanism underlying mandibular malformations.
Mouse Twisted gastrulation gene (Twsg1) expression is found throughout embryonic development, including substantial levels in the first branchial arch that gives rise to the submandibular salivary gland (SMG). We addressed the proposition that normal Twsg1 expression is critical to normal SMG ontogenesis.
Utilizing C57BL/6 embryos that were Twsg1−/− homozygotes, as well as wild type and heterozygote littermates, we investigated SMG development from gestational day 13 to newborn.
Twsg1 protein is immunodetected in epithelia throughout SMG development. Twsg1−/− embryos display widely variable craniofacial phenotypes that range from normal to severe holoprosencephaly/agnathia with no mandibular arch or stomodeum. The SMG phenotypes are correlated with the external craniofacial phenotype, ranging from normal to agenesis/aplasia.
It is evident that normal Twsg1 expression is critical for normal mouse SMG ontogenesis. Twsg1 loss of function is ultimately epistatic to the epigenome under normal physiologic conditions, but not always so. The reduced penetrance and variable expressivity seen in the SMGs of Twsg1−/− embryos is a challenging enigma.
Twisted gastrulation gene; Mouse; Salivary glands; Development; Embryonic; BMP, bone morphogenetic protein; BSA, bovine serum albumin; FGF8, fibroblast growth factor 8; Pitx1, paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 1; Shh, sonic hedgehog; SMG, submandibular salivary gland; Tsg, twisted gastrulation; Twsg1, twisted gastrulation gene
Human studies suggest, and mouse models clearly demonstrate, that cytomegalovirus (CMV) is dysmorphic to early organ and tissue development. CMV has a particular tropism for embryonic salivary gland and other head mesenchyme. CMV has evolved to co-opt cell signaling networks so to optimize replication and survival, to the detriment of infected tissues. It has been postulated that mesenchymal infection is the critical step in disrupting organogenesis. If so, organogenesis dependent on epithelial-mesenchymal interactions would be particularly vulnerable. In this study, we chose to model the vulnerability by investigating the cell and molecular pathogenesis of CMV infected mouse embryonic submandibular salivary glands (SMGs).
We infected E15 SMG explants with mouse CMV (mCMV). Active infection for up to 12 days in vitro results in a remarkable cell and molecular pathology characterized by atypical ductal epithelial hyperplasia, apparent epitheliomesenchymal transformation, oncocytic-like stromal metaplasia, β-catenin nuclear localization, and upregulation of Nfkb2, Relb, Il6, Stat3, and Cox2. Rescue with an antiviral nucleoside analogue indicates that mCMV replication is necessary to initiate and maintain SMG dysmorphogenesis.
mCMV infection of embryonic mouse explants results in dysplasia, metaplasia, and, possibly, anaplasia. The molecular pathogenesis appears to center around the activation of canonical and, perhaps more importantly, noncanonical NFκB. Further, COX-2 and IL-6 are important downstream effectors of embryopathology. At the cellular level, there appears to be a consequential interplay between the transformed SMG cells and the surrounding extracellular matrix, resulting in the nuclear translocation of β-catenin. From these studies, a tentative framework has emerged within which additional studies may be planned and performed.
Analyses of Fgf10 and Fgfr2b mutant mice, as well as human studies, suggest that FGF10/FGFR2b signaling may play an essential, nonredundant role during embryonic SMG development. To address this question, we have analyzed the SMG phenotype in Fgf10 and Fgfr2b heterozygous and null mutant mice. In addition, although previous studies suggest that the FGF10/FGFR2b and FGF8/FGFR2c signaling pathways are functionally interrelated, little is known about the functional relationship between these two pathways during SMG development. We have designed in vivo and in vitro experiments to address this question.
We analyzed Fgf10 and Fgfr2b heterozygous mutant and null mice and demonstrate dose-dependent SMG phenotypic differences. Hypoplastic SMGs are seen in Fgf10 and Fgfr2b heterozygotes whereas SMG aplasia is seen in Fgf10 and Fgfr2b null embryos. Complementary in vitro studies further indicate that FGF10/FGFR2b signaling regulates SMG epithelial branching and cell proliferation. To delineate the functional relationship between the FGF10/FGFR2b and FGF8/FGFR2c pathways, we compared the SMG phenotype in Fgfr2c+/Δ/Fgf10+/- double heterozygous mice to that seen in wildtype, Fgf10+/- (Fgfr2c+/+/Fgf10+/-) and Fgfr2c+/Δ (Fgfr2c+/Δ/Fgf10+/+) single heterozygous mutant littermates and demonstrate genotype-specific SMG phenotypes. In addition, exogenous FGF8 was able to rescue the abnormal SMG phenotype associated with abrogated FGFR2b signaling in vitro and restore branching to normal levels.
Our data indicates that FGF10/FGFR2b signaling is essential for the SMG epithelial branching and histodifferentiation, but not earliest initial bud formation. The functional presence of other endogenous signaling pathways could not prevent complete death of embryonic SMG cells in Fgf10 and Fgfr2b null mice. Though we were able to rescue the abnormal phenotype associated with reduced in vitro FGF10/FGFR2b signaling with exogenous FGF8 supplementation, our results indicate that the FGF10/FGFR2b and FGF8/FGFR2c are nonredundant signaling pathways essential for in vivo embryonic SMG development. What remains to be determined is the in vivo functional relationship between the FGF10/FGFR2b signal transduction pathway and other key signaling pathways, and how these pathways are integrated during embryonic SMG development to compose the functional epigenome.
The Drosophila melanogaster JUN N-terminal kinase (DJNK) and DPP (decapentaplegic) signal transduction pathways coordinately regulate epithelial cell sheet movement during the process of dorsal closure in the embryo. By a genetic screen of mutations affecting dorsal closure in Drosophila, we have now identified a multidomain protein, connector of kinase to AP-1 (cka), that functions in the DJNK pathway and controls the localized expression of dpp in the leading-edge cells. We have also investigated how CKA acts. This unique molecule forms a complex with HEP (DJNKK), BSK (DJNK), DJUN, and DFOS. Complex formation activates BSK kinase, which in turn phosphorylates and activates DJUN and DFOS. These data suggest that CKA represents a novel molecule regulating AP-1 activity by organizing a molecular complex of kinases and transcription factors, thus coordinating the spatial-temporal expression of AP-1-regulated genes.
The proper balance between epithelial cell proliferation, quiescence, and apoptosis during development is mediated by the specific temporal and spatial appearance of transcription factors, growth factors, cytokines, caspases, etc. Since our prior studies suggest the importance of transcription factor NF-κB during embryonic submandibular salivary gland (SMG) development, we attempted to delineate the emergent dynamics of a cognate signaling network by studying the molecular patterns and phenotypic outcomes of interrupted NF-κB signaling in embryonic SMG explants.
SN50-mediated inhibition of NF-κB nuclear translocation in E15 SMG explants cultured for 2 days results in a highly significant increase in apoptosis and decrease in cell proliferation. Probabilistic Neural Network (PNN) analyses of transcriptomic and proteomic assays identify specific transcripts and proteins with altered expression that best discriminate control from SN50-treated SMGs. These include PCNA, GR, BMP1, BMP3b, Chk1, Caspase 6, E2F1, c-Raf, ERK1/2 and JNK-1, as well as several others of lesser importance. Increased expression of signaling pathway components is not necessarily probative of pathway activity; however, as confirmation we found a significant increase in activated (phosphorylated/cleaved) ERK 1/2, Caspase 3, and PARP in SN50-treated explants. This increased activity of proapoptotic (caspase3/PARP) and compensatory antiapoptotic (ERK1/2) pathways is consistent with the dramatic cell death seen in SN50-treated SMGs.
Our morphological and functional genomic analyses indicate that the primary and secondary effects of NF-κB-mediated transcription are critical to embryonic SMG developmental homeostasis. Relative to understanding complex genetic networks and organogenesis, our results illustrate the importance of evaluating the gene, protein, and activated protein expression of multiple components from multiple pathways within broad functional categories.
The proper balance between epithelial cell proliferation, quiescence, and apoptosis during development is mediated by the specific temporal and spatial appearance of transcription factors, growth factors, cytokines, caspases, etc. Since prior studies suggest the importance of transcription factor NF?B during embryonic submandibular salivary gland (SMG) development, we attempted to delineate the emergent dynamics of a cognate signaling network by studying the molecular patterns and phenotypic outcomes of interrupted NF?B signaling in embryonic SMG explants.
SN50-mediated inhibition of NF?B signaling in SMG explants results in a highly significant increase in apoptosis and decrease in cell proliferation. Probabilistic Neural Network (PNN) analyses of proteomic and transcriptomic assays identify specific transcripts and proteins with altered expression that best discriminate control from SN50-treated SMGs with 100% sensitivity and specificity. These include PCNA, GR, BMP1, BMP3b, Chk1, Caspase 6, E2F1, c-Raf, and JNK-1, as well as several others of lessor importance. Thus, it is apparent that inhibition of NF?B nuclear translocation alters the expression of a cognate genetic network with broadly related, rather than independent, components.
Morphological and functional genomic analyses subsequent to inhibition of NF?B nuclear translocation indicate that NF?B-mediated transcription is critical to embryonic SMG developmental homeostasis. Relative to understanding complex genetic networks and organogenesis, our results demonstrate the importance of evaluating the gene, protein, and activated protein expression of multiple components from multiple pathways within broad functional categories.
The regulation of programmed cell death is critical to developmental homeostasis and normal morphogenesis of embryonic tissues. Survivin, a member of the inhibitors of apoptosis protein (IAP) family primarily expressed in embryonic cells, is both an anti-apoptosis and a pro-survival factor. Since our previous studies have demonstrated the importance of apoptosis during embryonic submandibular salivary gland (SMG) development, we postulated that survivin is a likely mediator of SMG epithelial cell survival.
We investigated the developmental expression of survivin in Pseudoglandular (~ E14), Canalicular (~ E15) and Terminal Bud (~ E17) Stage SMGs. We report a significant 26% increase in transcript levels between the Canalicular and Terminal Bud Stages. Immunohistochemical studies demonstrate nuclear-localized survivin protein in epithelial cells bounding forming lumina in Canalicular and Terminal Bud Stage SMGs.
Survivin is known to be a pro-survival and anti-apoptotic factor. Given that survivin translocation into the nucleus is required for the induction of entry into the cell cycle and the inhibition of apoptosis, our demonstration of nuclear-localized survivin protein in presumptive ductal and proacinar lumen-bounding cells suggests that survivin may be a key mediator of embryonic SMG epithelial cell survival.