- Wide and high resolution tension measurement using FRET in embryo. [Journal Article]
- Sci Rep 2016.:28535.
During embryonic development, physical force plays an important role in morphogenesis and differentiation. Stretch sensitive fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) has the potential to provide non-invasive tension measurements inside living tissue. In this study, we introduced a FRET-based actinin tension sensor into Xenopus laevis embryos and demonstrated that this sensor captures variation of tension across differentiating ectoderm. The actinin tension sensor, containing mCherry and EGFP connected by spider silk protein, was validated in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells and embryos. It co-localized with actin filaments and changed FRET efficiencies in response to actin filament destruction, myosin deactivation, and osmotic perturbation. Time-lapse FRET analysis showed that the prospective neural ectoderm bears higher tension than the epidermal ectoderm during gastrulation and neurulation, and cells morphogenetic behavior correlated with the tension difference. These data confirmed that the sensor enables us to measure tension across tissues concurrently and with high resolution.
- The central nervous system of ascidian larvae. [REVIEW, JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol 2016 Jun 21.
Ascidians are marine invertebrate chordates. Their tadpole larvae contain a dorsal tubular nervous system, resulting from the rolling up of a neural plate. Along the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis, the central nervous system (CNS) is organized into a sensory vesicle, neck, trunk ganglion, and tail nerve cord and consists of approximately only 330 cells, of which around 100 are thought to be neurons. The organization of distinct neuronal cell types and neurotransmitter gene expression within the CNS has been described. The unique developmental mode of ascidians, with a small number of cells and a fixed cell division pattern, allows individual cells to be traced throughout development. This feature has led to the complete documentation of the cell lineages of certain cell types in the CNS. Thus, a step-by-step understanding of nervous system development from the initial stages of neural induction to the neurogenesis of individual neurons is a feasible goal. The genetic control of neural fate induction and early neural plate patterning are now well understood. The molecular mechanisms specifying the cholinergic neurons of the trunk ganglion as well as the pigment cells of the sensory organs are also well elucidated. In addition, studies have begun on the morphogenetic processes of neurulation. Remaining challenges include building an embryonic atlas integrating gene expression patterns, cell lineage, and neuronal cell types as well as developing the gene regulatory networks of cell fate specification and integrating them with the genetic control of morphogenesis. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
- Consequences of low or moderate prenatal ethanol exposures during gastrulation or neurulation for open field activity and emotionality in mice. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Neurotoxicol Teratol 2016 Jun 11.
In a previous study we used a mouse model for ethanol exposure during gastrulation or neurulation to investigate the effects of modest and occasional human drinking during the 3rd or 4th week of pregnancy (Schambra et al., 2015). Pregnant C57Bl/6J mice were treated by gavage during gastrulation on gestational day (GD) 7 or neurulation on GD8 with 2 doses 4h apart of either 2.4 or 2.9g ethanol/kg body weight, resulting in peak blood ethanol concentrations (BECs) of 104 and 177mg/dl, respectively. We found that mice exposed to the low dose on either day were significantly delayed in their neonatal sensorimotor development. In the present study, we tested the same cohort of mice in an open field as juveniles on postnatal day (PD) 23-25 and as young adults on PD65-67 for prenatal ethanol effects on exploration and emotionality with measures of activity, rearing, grooming and defecation. We evaluated the effects of dose, sex, day of treatment and day of birth by multiple regression analyses. We found that, compared to the respective gavage controls, juvenile mice that had been prenatally exposed to the low BEC on either GD7 or GD8 were significantly hypoactive on the first 2 test days, reared significantly more on the last 2 test days, and groomed and defecated significantly more on all 3 test days. Only mice that had been treated on GD7 remained hypoactive as adults. Juvenile mice prenatally exposed to the moderate BEC on GD7 groomed significantly more, while those exposed on GD8 reared and defecated significantly more. Sex differences were highly significant in adult control mice, with control males less active and more emotional than females. Similar, but smaller, sex differences were also evident in adults exposed to ethanol prenatally. Persistence into later life of a deleterious effect of premature birth (i.e., birth on GD19 rather than GD20) on weight and behavior was not consistently supported by these data. Importantly, mice shown previously to be delayed in sensorimotor development as neonates, in the present study demonstrated hypoactivity and increased emotionality in open field behaviors as juveniles, and those mice exposed during gastrulation remained hypoactive as adults. Thus, we propose that the delayed motor development, hypoactivity and emotionality we observed in mice exposed to a low BEC during gastrulation or neurulation may relate to an attention deficit-activity disorder in humans, possibly the inattentive subtype, or Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT). We further discuss concerns about occasional light or moderate alcohol consumption during the 3rd or 4th week of human pregnancy.
- Acute alcohol exposure during neurulation: Behavioral and brain structural consequences in adolescent C57BL/6J mice. [Journal Article]
- Behav Brain Res 2016 Sep 15.:70-80.
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) can induce physical malformations and behavioral abnormalities that depend in part on thedevelopmental timing of alcohol exposure. The current studies employed a mouse FASD model to characterize the long-term behavioral and brain structural consequences of a binge-like alcohol exposure during neurulation; a first-trimester stage when women are typically unaware that they are pregnant. Time-mated C57BL/6J female mice were administered two alcohol doses (2.8g/kg, four hours apart) or vehicle starting at gestational day 8.0. Male and female adolescent offspring (postnatal day 28-45) were then examined for motor activity (open field and elevated plus maze), coordination (rotarod), spatial learning and memory (Morris water maze), sensory motor gating (acoustic startle and prepulse inhibition), sociability (three-chambered social test), and nociceptive responses (hot plate). Regional brain volumes and shapes were determined using magnetic resonance imaging. In males, PAE increased activity on the elevated plus maze and reduced social novelty preference, while in females PAE increased exploratory behavior in the open field and transiently impaired rotarod performance. In both males and females, PAE modestly impaired Morris water maze performance and decreased the latency to respond on the hot plate. There were no brain volume differences; however, significant shape differences were found in the cerebellum, hypothalamus, striatum, and corpus callosum. These results demonstrate that alcohol exposure during neurulation can have functional consequences into adolescence, even in the absence of significant brain regional volumetric changes. However, PAE-induced regional shape changes provide evidence for persistent brain alterations and suggest alternative clinical diagnostic markers.
- Development of sperm vitrification protocols for freshwater fish (Eurasian perch, Perca fluviatilis) and marine fish (European eel, Anguilla anguilla). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Gen Comp Endocrinol 2016 May 9.
Vitrification was successfully applied to the sperm of two fish species, the freshwater Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) and marine European eel (Anguilla anguilla). Sperm was collected, diluted in species-specific non-activating media and cryoprotectants and vitrified by plunging directly into liquid nitrogen without pre-cooling in its vapor. Progressive motility of fresh and vitrified-thawed sperm was evaluated with computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA). Additional sperm quality parameters such as sperm head morphometry parameters (in case of European eel) and fertilizing capacity (in case of Eurasian perch) were carried out to test the effectiveness of vitrification. The vitrification method for Eurasian perch sperm resulting the highest post-thaw motility (14±1.6%) was as follows: 1:5 dilution ratio, Tanaka extender, 30% cryoprotectant (15% methanol+15% propylene-glycol), cooling device: Cryotop, 2μl droplets, and for European eel sperm: dilution ratio 1:1, with 40% cryoprotectant (20% MeOH and 20% PG), and 10% FBS, cooling device: Cryotop, with 2μl of sperm suspension. Viable embryos were produced by fertilization with vitrified Eurasian perch sperm (neurulation: 2.54±1.67%). According to the ASMA analysis, no significant decrease in head area and perimeter of vitrified European eel spermatozoa were found when compared to fresh spermatozoa.
- Mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate disrupts neurulation and modifies the embryonic redox environment and gene expression. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Reprod Toxicol 2016 May 7.:32-48.
Mono-2-ethylhexl phthalate (MEHP) is the primary metabolite of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), a ubiquitous contaminant in plastics. This study sought to determine how structural defects caused by MEHP in mouse whole embryo culture were related to temporal and spatial patterns of redox state and gene expression. MEHP reduced morphology scores along with increased incidence of neural tube defects. Glutathione (GSH) and cysteine (Cys) concentrations fluctuated spatially and temporally in embryo (EMB) and visceral yolk sac (VYS) across the 24h culture. Redox potentials (Eh) for GSSG/GSH were increased by MEHP in EMB (12h) but not in VYS. CySS/CyS Eh in EMB and VYS were significantly increased at 3h and 24h, respectively. Gene expression at 6h showed that MEHP induced selective alterations in EMB and VYS for oxidative phosphorylation and energy metabolism pathways. Overall, MEHP affects neurulation, alters Eh, and spatially alters the expression of metabolic genes in the early organogenesis-stage mouse conceptus.
- Superoxide dismutase 2 overexpression alleviates maternal diabetes-induced neural tube defects, restores mitochondrial function and suppresses cellular stress in diabetic embryopathy. [Journal Article]
- Free Radic Biol Med 2016 Jul.:234-44.
Pregestational diabetes disrupts neurulation leading to neural tube defects (NTDs). Oxidative stress resulting from reactive oxygen species (ROS) plays a central role in the induction of NTD formation in diabetic pregnancies. We aimed to determine whether mitochondrial dysfunction increases ROS production leading to oxidative stress and diabetic embryopathy. Overexpression of the mitochondrion-specific antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) in a transgenic (Tg) mouse model significantly reduced maternal diabetes-induced NTDs. SOD2 overexpression abrogated maternal diabetes-induced mitochondrial dysfunction by inhibiting mitochondrial translocation of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members, reducing the number of defective mitochondria in neuroepithelial cells, and decreasing mitochondrial membrane potential. Furthermore, SOD2 overexpression blocked maternal diabetes-increased ROS production by diminishing dihydroethidium staining signals in the developing neuroepithelium, and reducing the levels of nitrotyrosine-modified proteins and lipid hydroperoxide level in neurulation stage embryos. SOD2 overexpression also abolished maternal diabetes-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress. Finally, caspase-dependent neuroepithelial cell apoptosis enhanced by oxidative stress was significantly reduced by SOD2 overexpression. Thus, our findings support the hypothesis that mitochondrial dysfunction in the developing neuroepithelium enhances ROS production, which leads to oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. SOD2 overexpression blocks maternal diabetes-induced oxidative stress and ER stress, and reduces the incidence of NTDs in embryos exposed to maternal diabetes.
- Regulation of cell protrusions by small GTPases during fusion of the neural folds. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Elife 2016.
Epithelial fusion is a crucial process in embryonic development, and its failure underlies several clinically important birth defects. For example, failure of neural fold fusion during neurulation leads to open neural tube defects including spina bifida. Using mouse embryos, we show that cell protrusions emanating from the apposed neural fold tips, at the interface between the neuroepithelium and the surface ectoderm, are required for completion of neural tube closure. By genetically ablating the cytoskeletal regulators Rac1 or Cdc42 in the dorsal neuroepithelium, or in the surface ectoderm, we show that these protrusions originate from surface ectodermal cells and that Rac1 is necessary for the formation of membrane ruffles which typify late closure stages, whereas Cdc42 is required for the predominance of filopodia in early neurulation. This study provides evidence for the essential role and molecular regulation of membrane protrusions prior to fusion of a key organ primordium in mammalian development.
- Developmental Control of Cell-Cycle Compensation Provides a Switch for Patterned Mitosis at the Onset of Chordate Neurulation. [Journal Article]
- Dev Cell 2016 Apr 18; 37(2):148-61.
During neurulation of chordate ascidians, the 11th mitotic division within the epidermal layer shows a posterior-to-anterior wave that is precisely coordinated with the unidirectional progression of the morphogenetic movement. Here we show that the first sign of this patterned mitosis is an asynchronous anterior-to-posterior S-phase length and that mitotic synchrony is reestablished by a compensatory asynchronous G2-phase length. Live imaging combined with genetic experiments demonstrated that compensatory G2-phase regulation requires transcriptional activation of the G2/M regulator cdc25 by the patterning genes GATA and AP-2. The downregulation of GATA and AP-2 at the onset of neurulation leads to loss of compensatory G2-phase regulation and promotes the transition to patterned mitosis. We propose that such developmentally regulated cell-cycle compensation provides an abrupt switch to spatially patterned mitosis in order to achieve the coordination between mitotic timing and morphogenesis.
- Microtubules, polarity and vertebrate neural tube morphogenesis. [Journal Article, Review]
- J Anat 2016 Jul; 229(1):63-74.
Microtubules (MTs) are key cellular components, long known to participate in morphogenetic events that shape the developing embryo. However, the links between the cellular functions of MTs, their effects on cell shape and polarity, and their role in large-scale morphogenesis remain poorly understood. Here, these relationships were examined with respect to two strategies for generating the vertebrate neural tube: bending and closure of the mammalian neural plate; and cavitation of the teleost neural rod. The latter process has been compared with 'secondary' neurulation that generates the caudal spinal cord in mammals. MTs align along the apico-basal axis of the mammalian neuroepithelium early in neural tube closure, participating functionally in interkinetic nuclear migration, which indirectly impacts on cell shape. Whether MTs play other functional roles in mammalian neurulation remains unclear. In the zebrafish, MTs are important for defining the neural rod midline prior to its cavitation, both by localizing apical proteins at the tissue midline and by orienting cell division through a mirror-symmetric MT apparatus that helps to further define the medial localization of apical polarity proteins. Par proteins have been implicated in centrosome positioning in neuroepithelia as well as in the control of polarized morphogenetic movements in the neural rod. Understanding of MT functions during early nervous system development has so far been limited, partly by techniques that fail to distinguish 'cause' from 'effect'. Future developments will likely rely on novel ways to selectively impair MT function in order to investigate the roles they play.