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- Embryonic Expression and Function of the Xenopus Ink4d Cyclin D-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Cell Dev Biol 2014 Feb 15; 3(1)
Here we report the cloning and functional characterization of the cyclin D-dependent kinase 4 and 6 (Cdk4/6) inhibitory protein Cdkn2d/p19(Ink4d) of Xenopuslaevis (Xl-Ink4d). Xl-Ink4d is the only Ink4 family gene highly expressed during Xenopus development and its transcripts were detected maternally and during neurulation. The Xl-Ink4d protein has 63% identity to mouse and human Cdkn2d/p19(Ink4d) and its function as a negative regulator of cell cycle traverse is evolutionary conserved. Indeed, Xl-lnk4d can functionally substitute for mouse Cdkn2d in binding to mouse Cdk4 and inhibiting cyclin-D1-dependent CDK4 kinase activity. Further, enforced expression of Xl-lnk4d arrests mouse fibroblasts in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. These findings indicate that CDKN2d/p19(Ink4d) is conserved through vertebrate evolution and suggest Xl-lnk4d may contribute to the development of Xenopuslaevis.
- Cell lineages and fate maps in tunicates: conservation and modification. [Journal Article]
- Zoolog Sci 2014 Oct; 31(10):645-52.
Comparison of features of the cell lineages and fate maps of early embryos between related species is useful in inferring developmental mechanisms and amenable to evolutionary considerations. We present cleavage patterns, cell lineage trees, and fate maps of ascidian and appendicularian embryos side by side to facilitate comparison. This revealed a number of significant differences in cleavage patterns and cell lineage trees, whereas the fate maps were found to be conserved. This fate map similarity can be extended to vertebrates, thus representing the fate map characteristics of chordates. Cleavage patterns and cell lineages may have been modified during evolution without any drastic changes in fate maps. Selective pressures that constrain developmental mechanisms at early embryonic stages might not be so strong as long as embryos are still able to generate a chordate-type fate map. Aquatic chordates share similar fate maps and morphogenetic movements during gastrulation and neurulation, eventually developing into tadpole-shaped larvae. As swimming by tail beats, and not by cilia, is advantageous, selective pressure may maintain the basic elements of the tadpole shape. We also discuss the evolutionary origin of the vertebrate neural crest and the embryonic origin of the appendicularian heart to illustrate the usefulness of cell lineage data. From an evolutionary standpoint, cell lineages behave like other characteristics such as morphology or protein sequences. Both novel and primitive features are present in extant organisms, and it is of interest to identify the relative degree of evolutionary conservation as well as the level at which homology is inferred.
- Junctional neurulation: a unique developmental program shaping a discrete region of the spinal cord highly susceptible to neural tube defects. [Journal Article]
- J Neurosci 2014 Sep 24; 34(39):13208-21.
In higher vertebrates, the primordium of the nervous system, the neural tube, is shaped along the rostrocaudal axis through two consecutive, radically different processes referred to as primary and secondary neurulation. Failures in neurulation lead to severe anomalies of the nervous system, called neural tube defects (NTDs), which are among the most common congenital malformations in humans. Mechanisms causing NTDs in humans remain ill-defined. Of particular interest, the thoracolumbar region, which encompasses many NTD cases in the spine, corresponds to the junction between primary and secondary neurulations. Elucidating which developmental processes operate during neurulation in this region is therefore pivotal to unraveling the etiology of NTDs. Here, using the chick embryo as a model, we show that, at the junction, the neural tube is elaborated by a unique developmental program involving concerted movements of elevation and folding combined with local cell ingression and accretion. This process ensures the topological continuity between the primary and secondary neural tubes while supplying all neural progenitors of both the junctional and secondary neural tubes. Because it is distinct from the other neurulation events, we term this phenomenon junctional neurulation. Moreover, the planar-cell-polarity member, Prickle-1, is recruited specifically during junctional neurulation and its misexpression within a limited time period suffices to cause anomalies that phenocopy lower spine NTDs in human. Our study thus provides a molecular and cellular basis for understanding the causality of NTD prevalence in humans and ascribes to Prickle-1 a critical role in lower spinal cord formation.
- Xenopus mutant reveals necessity of rax for specifying the eye field which otherwise forms tissue with telencephalic and diencephalic character. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Biol 2014 Sep 16.
The retinal anterior homeobox (rax) gene encodes a transcription factor necessary for vertebrate eye development. rax transcription is initiated at the end of gastrulation in Xenopus, and is a key part of the regulatory network specifying anterior neural plate and retina. We describe here a Xenopus tropicalis rax mutant, the first mutant analyzed in detail from a reverse genetic screen. As in other vertebrates, this nonsense mutation results in eyeless animals, and is lethal peri-metamorphosis. Tissue normally fated to form retina in these mutants instead forms tissue with characteristics of diencephalon and telencephalon. This implies that a key role of rax, in addition to defining the eye field, is in preventing alternative forebrain identities. Our data highlight that brain and retina regions are not determined by the mid-gastrula stage but are by the neural plate stage. An RNA-Seq analysis and in situ hybridization assays for early gene expression in the mutant revealed that several key eye field transcription factors (e.g. pax6, lhx2 and six6) are not dependent on rax activity through neurulation. However, these analyses identified other genes either up- or down-regulated in mutant presumptive retinal tissue. Two neural patterning genes of particular interest that appear up-regulated in the rax mutant RNA-seq analysis are hesx1 and fezf2. These genes were not previously known to be regulated by rax. The normal function of rax is to partially repress their expression by an indirect mechanism in the presumptive retina region in wildtype embryos, thus accounting for the apparent up-regulation in the rax mutant. Knock-down experiments using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides directed against hesx1 and fezf2 show that failure to repress these two genes contributes to transformation of presumptive retinal tissue into non-retinal forebrain identities in the rax mutant.
- Genetic studies of ANKRD6 as a molecular switch between Wnt signaling pathways in human neural tube defects. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 2014 Sep 8.
Planar cell polarity (PCP) is a major branch of Wnt signaling that controls the process of convergent extension in gastrulation and neurulation. PCP defects were associated with neural tube defects (NTDs) that are the most common central nervous system anomalies. PCP signaling is highly dosage sensitive and exhibits an antagonistic relationship with the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Diversin, encoded by Ankrd6, is an ankyrin repeat protein that activates the non canonical PCP signaling and simultaneously inhibits the canonical pathway.In this study, we analyzed this dual role of ANKRD6 in NTDs. We sequenced its coding region in 473 NTD patients and 150 controls, and we validated the effect of the identified variants on Wnt signaling using reporter assays in mammalian cells.We identified four rare missense mutations in 0.8% of the NTD patients and two rare missense mutations in 1.3% of the controls. Notably, when all six mutations were validated, only two mutations identified in NTD patients, p.Pro548Leu, p.Arg632His, significantly altered DIVERSIN activity in Wnt signaling assays in a hypomorphic manner.Rare missense mutations in ANKRD6 could affect a balanced reciprocal antagonism between both Wnt pathways in neurulation and act as predisposing factors to NTDs in a subset of patients. Birth Defects Research (Part A), 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Germ cell nuclear factor regulates gametogenesis in developing gonads. [Journal Article, Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural]
- PLoS One 2014; 9(8):e103985.
Expression of germ cell nuclear factor (GCNF; Nr6a1), an orphan member of the nuclear receptor gene family of transcription factors, during gastrulation and neurulation is critical for normal embryogenesis in mice. Gcnf represses the expression of the POU-domain transcription factor Oct4 (Pou5f1) during mouse post-implantation development. Although Gcnf expression is not critical for the embryonic segregation of the germ cell lineage, we found that sexually dimorphic expression of Gcnf in germ cells correlates with the expression of pluripotency-associated genes, such as Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog, as well as the early meiotic marker gene Stra8. To elucidate the role of Gcnf during mouse germ cell differentiation, we generated an ex vivo Gcnf-knockdown model in combination with a regulated CreLox mutation of Gcnf. Lack of Gcnf impairs normal spermatogenesis and oogenesis in vivo, as well as the derivation of germ cells from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in vitro. Inactivation of the Gcnf gene in vivo leads to loss of repression of Oct4 expression in both male and female gonads.
- In vivo assessment of guided neural stem cell differentiation in growth factor immobilized chitosan-based hydrogel scaffolds. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Biomaterials 2014 Aug 8.
In this study, we demonstrate that a unique growth factor-biomaterial system can offer spatial control of growth factors with sustained signaling to guide the specific lineage commitment of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) in vivo. First, recombinant fusion proteins incorporating an N-terminal biotin tag and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), platelet derived growth factor-AA (PDGF-AA), or bone morphogenic protein-2 (BMP-2) were immobilized to a methacrylamide chitosan (MAC) based biopolymer via a streptavidin linker to specify NSPC differentiation into neurons, oligodendrocytes, or astrocytes, respectively. MAC was mixed with growth factors (immobilized or adsorbed), acrylated laminin, NSPCs, and crosslinked within chitosan conduits. This system mimics regenerative aspects of the central nervous system ECM, which is largely composed of a crosslinked polysaccharide matrix with cell-adhesive regions, and adds the new functionality of protein sequestration. We demonstrated that these growth factors are maintained at functionally significant levels for 28 d in vitro. In the main study, immobilized treatments were compared to absorbed and control treatments after 28 d in vivo (rat subcutaneous). Masson's Trichrome staining revealed that small collagen capsules formed around the chitosan conduits with an average acceptable thickness of 153.07 ± 6.02 μm for all groups. ED-1 staining showed mild macrophage clustering around the outside of chitosan conduits in all treatments with no macrophage invasion into hydrogel portions. Importantly, NSPC differentiation staining demonstrated that immobilized growth factors induced the majority of cells to differentiate into the desired cell types as compared with adsorbed growth factor treatments and controls by day 28. Interestingly, immobilized IFN-γ resulted in neural rosette-like arrangements and even structures resembling neural tubes, suggesting this treatment can lead to guided dedifferentiation and subsequent neurulation.
- LTR retroelements are intrinsic components of transcriptional networks in frogs. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- BMC Genomics 2014.:626.
LTR retroelements (LTR REs) constitute a major group of transposable elements widely distributed in eukaryotic genomes. Through their own mechanism of retrotranscription LTR REs enrich the genomic landscape by providing genetic variability, thus contributing to genome structure and organization. Nonetheless, transcriptomic activity of LTR REs still remains an obscure domain within cell, developmental, and organism biology.Here we present a first comparative analysis of LTR REs for anuran amphibians based on a full depth coverage transcriptome of the European pool frog, Pelophylax lessonae, the genome of the African clawed frog, Silurana tropicalis (release v7.1), and additional transcriptomes of S. tropicalis and Cyclorana alboguttata. We identified over 1000 copies of LTR REs from all four families (Bel/Pao, Ty1/Copia, Ty3/Gypsy, Retroviridae) in the genome of S. tropicalis and discovered transcripts of several of these elements in all RNA-seq datasets analyzed. Elements of the Ty3/Gypsy family were most active, especially Amn-san elements, which accounted for approximately 0.27% of the genome in Silurana. Some elements exhibited tissue specific expression patterns, for example Hydra1.1 and MuERV-like elements in Pelophylax. In S. tropicalis considerable transcription of LTR REs was observed during embryogenesis as soon as the embryonic genome became activated, i.e. at midblastula transition. In the course of embryonic development the spectrum of transcribed LTR REs changed; during gastrulation and neurulation MuERV-like and SnRV like retroviruses were abundantly transcribed while during organogenesis transcripts of the XEN1 retroviruses became much more active.The differential expression of LTR REs during embryogenesis in concert with their tissue-specificity and the protein domains they encode are evidence for the functional roles these elements play as integrative parts of complex regulatory networks. Our results support the meanwhile widely accepted concept that retroelements are not simple "junk DNA" or "harmful genomic parasites" but essential components of the transcriptomic machinery in vertebrates.
- Geminin loss causes neural tube defects through disrupted progenitor specification and neuronal differentiation. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Biol 2014 Jul 1.
Geminin is a nucleoprotein that can directly bind chromatin regulatory complexes to modulate gene expression during development. Geminin knockout mouse embryos are preimplantation lethal by the 32-cell stage, precluding in vivo study of Geminin's role in neural development. Therefore, here we used a conditional Geminin allele in combination with several Cre-driver lines to define an essential role for Geminin during mammalian neural tube (NT) formation and patterning. Geminin was required in the NT within a critical developmental time window (embryonic day 8.5-10.5), when NT patterning and closure occurs. Geminin excision at these stages resulted in strongly diminished expression of genes that mark and promote dorsal NT identities and decreased differentiation of ventral motor neurons, resulting in completely penetrant NT defects, while excision after embryonic day 10.5 did not result in NT defects. When Geminin was deleted specifically in the spinal NT, both NT defects and axial skeleton defects were observed, but neither defect occurred when Geminin was excised in paraxial mesenchyme, indicating a tissue autonomous requirement for Geminin in developing neuroectoderm. Despite a potential role for Geminin in cell cycle control, we found no evidence of proliferation defects or altered apoptosis. Comparisons of gene expression in the NT of Geminin mutant versus wild-type siblings at embryonic day 10.5 revealed decreased expression of key regulators of neurogenesis, including neurogenic bHLH transcription factors and dorsal interneuron progenitor markers. Together, these data demonstrate a requirement for Geminin for NT patterning and neuronal differentiation during mammalian neurulation in vivo.
- A rat toxicogenomics study with the Calcium Sensitizer EMD82571 reveals a pleiotropic cause of teratogenicity. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Reprod Toxicol 2014 Jun 27.
The calcium sensitizer and PDEIII inhibitor EMD82571 caused exencephaly, micrognathia, agnathia and facial cleft in 58% of fetuses. In pursue of mechanisms and to define adverse outcome pathways pregnant Wistar rats were dosed daily with either EMD82571 (50 or 150mg/kg/day) or retinoic acid (12mg/kg/day) on gestational days 6-11 and 6-17, respectively. Hypothesis driven and whole genome microarray experiments with whole embryo, maternal liver, embryonic liver and malformed bone at gestational days 12 and 20 revealed regulation of genes critically involved in osteogenesis, odontogenesis, differentiation and development and extracellular matrix. Importantly, repression of osteocalcin and members of TGF-β/BMP signaling hampered osteo- and odontogenesis. Furthermore, EMD82571 ability to impair neurulation by inhibiting mid hinge point formation resulting in neural tube defects. Taken collectively, a molecular rationale for the observed teratogenicity induced by EMD82571 is presented that links molecular initiating events with AOPs.