Cardiac valve formation is crucial for embryonic and adult heart function. Valve malformations constitute the most common congenital cardiac defect, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating valve formation and homeostasis. Here, we show that endocardial Notch1 and myocardial Bmp2 signal integration establish a valve-forming field between 2 chamber developmental domains. Patterning occurs through the activation of endocardial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) exclusively in prospective valve territories. Mice with constitutive endocardial Notch1 activity ectopically express Hey1 and Heyl. They also display an activated mesenchymal gene program in ventricles and a partial (noninvasive) EMT in vitro that becomes invasive upon BMP2 treatment. Snail1, TGF-β2, or Notch1 inhibition reduces BMP2-induced ventricular transformation and invasion, whereas BMP2 treatment inhibits endothelial Gsk3β, stabilizing Snail1 and promoting invasiveness. Integration of Notch and Bmp2 signals is consistent with Notch1 signaling being attenuated after myocardial Bmp2 deletion. Notch1 activation in myocardium extends Hey1 expression to nonchamber myocardium, represses Bmp2, and impairs EMT. In contrast, Notch deletion abrogates endocardial Hey gene transcription and extends Bmp2 expression to the ventricular endocardium. This embryonic Notch1-Bmp2-Snail1 relationship may be relevant in adult valve disease, in which decreased NOTCH signaling causes valve mesenchyme cell formation, fibrosis, and calcification.
Luis Luna-Zurita, Belén Prados, Joaquim Grego-Bessa, Guillermo Luxán, Gonzalo del Monte, Alberto Benguría, Ralf H. Adams, José María Pérez-Pomares, José Luis de la Pompa
Retinal degeneration causes vision impairment and blindness in humans. If one day we are to harness the potential of stem cell–based cell replacement therapies to treat these conditions, it is imperative that we better understand normal retina development. Currently, the genes and mechanisms that regulate the specification of the neuroretina during vertebrate eye development remain unknown. Here, we identify sine oculis–related homeobox 3 (Six3) as a crucial player in this process in mice. In Six3 conditional–mutant mouse embryos, specification of the neuroretina was abrogated, but that of the retinal pigmented epithelium was normal. Conditional deletion of Six3 did not affect the initial development of the optic vesicle but did arrest subsequent neuroretina specification. Ectopic rostral expansion of Wnt8b expression was the major response to Six3 deletion and the leading cause for the specific lack of neuroretina, as ectopic Wnt8b expression in transgenic embryos was sufficient to suppress neuroretina specification. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we identified Six3-responsive elements in the Wnt8b locus and demonstrated that Six3 directly repressed Wnt8b expression in vivo. Our findings provide a molecular framework to the program leading to neuroretina differentiation and may be relevant for the development of novel strategies aimed at characterizing and eventually treating different abnormalities in eye formation.
Wei Liu, Oleg Lagutin, Eric Swindell, Milan Jamrich, Guillermo Oliver
Patients with Kallmann syndrome (KS) have hypogonadotropic hypogonadism caused by a deficiency of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and a defective sense of smell related to olfactory bulb aplasia. Based on the findings in a fetus affected by the X chromosome–linked form of the disease, it has been suggested that hypogonadism in KS results from the failed embryonic migration of neuroendocrine GnRH1 cells from the nasal epithelium to the forebrain. We asked whether this singular observation might extend to other developmental disorders that also include arrhinencephaly. We therefore studied the location of GnRH1 cells in fetuses affected by different arrhinencephalic disorders, specifically X-linked KS, CHARGE syndrome, trisomy 13, and trisomy 18, using immunohistochemistry. Few or no neuroendocrine GnRH1 cells were detected in the preoptic and hypothalamic regions of all arrhinencephalic fetuses, whereas large numbers of these cells were present in control fetuses. In all arrhinencephalic fetuses, many GnRH1 cells were present in the frontonasal region, the first part of their migratory path, as were interrupted olfactory nerve fibers that formed bilateral neuromas. Our findings define a pathological sequence whereby a lack of migration of neuroendocrine GnRH cells stems from the primary embryonic failure of peripheral olfactory structures. This can occur either alone, as in isolated KS, or as part of a pleiotropic disease, such as CHARGE syndrome, trisomy 13, and trisomy 18.
Luis Teixeira, Fabien Guimiot, Catherine Dodé, Catherine Fallet-Bianco, Robert P. Millar, Anne-Lise Delezoide, Jean-Pierre Hardelin
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process that is essential for cellular homeostasis and organismal viability in eukaryotes. However, the extent of its functions in higher-order processes of organismal physiology and behavior is still unknown. Here, we report that autophagy is essential for the maintenance of balance in mice and that its deficiency leads to severe balance disorders. We generated mice deficient in autophagin-1 protease (Atg4b) and showed that they had substantial systemic reduction of autophagic activity. Autophagy reduction occurred through defective proteolytic processing of the autophagosome component LC3 and its paralogs, which compromised the rate of autophagosome maturation. Despite their viability, Atg4b-null mice showed unusual patterns of behavior that are common features of inner ear pathologies. Consistent with this, Atg4b-null mice showed defects in the development of otoconia, organic calcium carbonate crystals essential for sense of balance (equilibrioception). Furthermore, these abnormalities were exacerbated in Atg5–/– mice, which completely lack the ability to perform autophagy, confirming that autophagic activity is necessary for otoconial biogenesis. Autophagy deficiency also led to impaired secretion and assembly of otoconial core proteins, thus hampering otoconial development. Taken together, these results describe an essential role for autophagy in inner ear development and equilibrioception and open new possibilities for understanding and treating human balance disorders, which are of growing relevance among the elderly population.
Guillermo Mariño, Alvaro F. Fernández, Sandra Cabrera, Yunxia W. Lundberg, Rubén Cabanillas, Francisco Rodríguez, Natalia Salvador-Montoliu, José A. Vega, Antonino Germanà, Antonio Fueyo, José M.P. Freije, Carlos López-Otín
The developmental abnormalities associated with disruption of signaling by retinoic acid (RA), the biologically active form of vitamin A, have been known for decades from studies in animal models and humans. These include defects in the respiratory system, such as lung hypoplasia and agenesis. However, the molecular events controlled by RA that lead to formation of the lung primordium from the primitive foregut remain unclear. Here, we present evidence that endogenous RA acts as a major regulatory signal integrating Wnt and Tgfβ pathways in the control of Fgf10 expression during induction of the mouse primordial lung. We demonstrated that activation of Wnt signaling required for lung formation was dependent on local repression of its antagonist, Dickkopf homolog 1 (Dkk1), by endogenous RA. Moreover, we showed that simultaneously activating Wnt and repressing Tgfβ allowed induction of both lung buds in RA-deficient foreguts. The data in this study suggest that disruption of Wnt/Tgfβ/Fgf10 interactions represents the molecular basis for the classically reported failure to form lung buds in vitamin A deficiency.
Felicia Chen, Yuxia Cao, Jun Qian, Fengzhi Shao, Karen Niederreither, Wellington V. Cardoso
The molecular mechanisms that govern bone and joint formation are complex, involving an integrated network of signaling pathways and gene regulators. We investigated the role of Hox genes, which are known to specify individual segments of the skeleton, in the formation of autopod limb bones (i.e., the hands and feet) using the mouse mutant synpolydactyly homolog (spdh), which encodes a polyalanine expansion in Hoxd13. We found that no cortical bone was formed in the autopod in spdh/spdh mice; instead, these bones underwent trabecular ossification after birth. Spdh/spdh metacarpals acquired an ovoid shape and developed ectopic joints, indicating a loss of long bone characteristics and thus a transformation of metacarpals into carpal bones. The perichondrium of spdh/spdh mice showed abnormal morphology and decreased expression of Runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2), which was identified as a direct Hoxd13 transcriptional target. Hoxd11–/–Hoxd12–/–Hoxd13–/– triple-knockout mice and Hoxd13–/–Hoxa13+/– mice exhibited similar but less severe defects, suggesting that these Hox genes have similar and complementary functions and that the spdh allele acts as a dominant negative. This effect was shown to be due to sequestration of other polyalanine-containing transcription factors by the mutant Hoxd13 in the cytoplasm, leading to their degradation. These data indicate that Hox genes not only regulate patterning but also directly influence bone formation and the ossification pattern of bones, in part via Runx2.
Pablo Villavicencio-Lorini, Pia Kuss, Julia Friedrich, Julia Haupt, Muhammed Farooq, Seval Türkmen, Denis Duboule, Jochen Hecht, Stefan Mundlos
Cleft palate is a common congenital disorder that affects up to 1 in 2,500 live human births and results in considerable morbidity to affected individuals and their families. The etiology of cleft palate is complex, with both genetic and environmental factors implicated. Mutations in the transcription factor–encoding genes p63 and interferon regulatory factor 6 (IRF6) have individually been identified as causes of cleft palate; however, a relationship between the key transcription factors p63 and IRF6 has not been determined. Here, we used both mouse models and human primary keratinocytes from patients with cleft palate to demonstrate that IRF6 and p63 interact epistatically during development of the secondary palate. Mice simultaneously carrying a heterozygous deletion of p63 and the Irf6 knockin mutation R84C, which causes cleft palate in humans, displayed ectodermal abnormalities that led to cleft palate. Furthermore, we showed that p63 transactivated IRF6 by binding to an upstream enhancer element; genetic variation within this enhancer element is associated with increased susceptibility to cleft lip. Our findings therefore identify p63 as a key regulatory molecule during palate development and provide a mechanism for the cooperative role of p63 and IRF6 in orofacial development in mice and humans.
Helen A. Thomason, Huiqing Zhou, Evelyn N. Kouwenhoven, Gian-Paolo Dotto, Gaia Restivo, Bach-Cuc Nguyen, Hayley Little, Michael J. Dixon, Hans van Bokhoven, Jill Dixon
Polyhydramnios, megalencephaly, and symptomatic epilepsy syndrome (PMSE) is a rare human autosomal-recessive disorder characterized by abnormal brain development, cognitive disability, and intractable epilepsy. It is caused by homozygous deletions of STE20-related kinase adaptor α (STRADA). The underlying pathogenic mechanisms of PMSE and the role of STRADA in cortical development remain unknown. Here, we found that a human PMSE brain exhibits cytomegaly, neuronal heterotopia, and aberrant activation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling. STRADα normally binds and exports the protein kinase LKB1 out of the nucleus, leading to suppression of the mTORC1 pathway. We found that neurons in human PMSE cortex exhibited abnormal nuclear localization of LKB1. To investigate this further, we modeled PMSE in mouse neural progenitor cells (mNPCs) in vitro and in developing mouse cortex in vivo by knocking down STRADα expression. STRADα-deficient mNPCs were cytomegalic and showed aberrant rapamycin-dependent activation of mTORC1 in association with abnormal nuclear localization of LKB1. Consistent with the observations in human PMSE brain, knockdown of STRADα in vivo resulted in cortical malformation, enhanced mTORC1 activation, and abnormal nuclear localization of LKB1. Thus, we suggest that the aberrant nuclear accumulation of LKB1 caused by STRADα deficiency contributes to hyperactivation of mTORC1 signaling and disruption of neuronal lamination during corticogenesis, and thereby the neurological features associated with PMSE.
Ksenia A. Orlova, Whitney E. Parker, Gregory G. Heuer, Victoria Tsai, Jason Yoon, Marianna Baybis, Robert S. Fenning, Kevin Strauss, Peter B. Crino
The lymphatic system plays a key role in tissue fluid homeostasis. Lymphatic dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of many human diseases, including lymphedema and tumor metastasis. However, the mechanisms regulating lymphangiogenesis remain largely unknown. Here, we show that COUP-TFII (also known as Nr2f2), an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, mediates both developmental and pathological lymphangiogenesis in mice. Conditional ablation of COUP-TFII at an early embryonic stage resulted in failed formation of pre-lymphatic ECs (pre-LECs) and lymphatic vessels. COUP-TFII deficiency at a late developmental stage resulted in loss of LEC identity, gain of blood EC fate, and impaired lymphatic vessel sprouting. siRNA-mediated downregulation of COUP-TFII in cultured primary human LECs demonstrated that the maintenance of lymphatic identity and VEGF-C–induced lymphangiogenic activity, including cell proliferation and migration, are COUP-TFII–dependent and cell-autonomous processes. COUP-TFII enhanced the pro-lymphangiogenic actions of VEGF-C, at least in part by directly stimulating expression of neuropilin-2, a coreceptor for VEGF-C. In addition, COUP-TFII inactivation in a mammary gland mouse tumor model resulted in inhibition of tumor lymphangiogenesis, suggesting that COUP-TFII also regulates neo-lymphangiogenesis in the adult. Thus, COUP-TFII is a critical factor that controls lymphangiogenesis in embryonic development and tumorigenesis in adults.
Fu-Jung Lin, Xinpu Chen, Jun Qin, Young-Kwon Hong, Ming-Jer Tsai, Sophia Y. Tsai
The receptor tyrosine kinase ret protooncogene (RET) is implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases and in several developmental defects, particularly those in neural crest–derived structures and the genitourinary system. In order to further elucidate RET-mediated mechanisms that contribute to these diseases and decipher the basis for specificity in the pleiotropic effects of RET, we characterized development of the enteric and autonomic nervous systems in mice expressing RET9 or RET51 isoforms harboring mutations in tyrosine residues that act as docking sites for the adaptors Plcγ, Src, Shc, and Grb2. Using this approach, we found that development of the genitourinary system and the enteric and autonomic nervous systems is dependent on distinct RET-stimulated signaling pathways. Thus, mutation of RET51 at Y1062, a docking site for multiple adaptor proteins including Shc, caused distal colon aganglionosis reminiscent of Hirschsprung disease (HSCR). On the other hand, this mutation in RET9, which encodes an isoform that lacks the Grb2 docking site present in RET51, produced severe abnormalities in multiple organs. Mutations that abrogate RET-Plcγ binding, previously shown to produce features reminiscent of congenital anomalies of kidneys or urinary tract (CAKUT) syndrome, produced only minor abnormalities in the nervous system. Abrogating RET51-Src binding produced no major defects in these systems. These studies provide insight into the basis of organotypic specificity and redundancy in RET signaling within these unique systems and in diseases such as HSCR and CAKUT.
Sanjay Jain, Amanda Knoten, Masato Hoshi, Hongtao Wang, Bhupinder Vohra, Robert O. Heuckeroth, Jeffrey Milbrandt
Various acute and chronic inflammatory stimuli increase the number and activity of pulmonary mucus-producing goblet cells, and goblet cell hyperplasia and excess mucus production are central to the pathogenesis of chronic pulmonary diseases. However, little is known about the transcriptional programs that regulate goblet cell differentiation. Here, we show that SAM-pointed domain–containing Ets-like factor (SPDEF) controls a transcriptional program critical for pulmonary goblet cell differentiation in mice. Initial cell-lineage–tracing analysis identified nonciliated secretory epithelial cells, known as Clara cells, as the progenitors of goblet cells induced by pulmonary allergen exposure in vivo. Furthermore, in vivo expression of SPDEF in Clara cells caused rapid and reversible goblet cell differentiation in the absence of cell proliferation. This was associated with enhanced expression of genes regulating goblet cell differentiation and protein glycosylation, including forkhead box A3 (Foxa3), anterior gradient 2 (Agr2), and glucosaminyl (N-acetyl) transferase 3, mucin type (Gcnt3). Consistent with these findings, levels of SPDEF and FOXA3 were increased in mouse goblet cells after sensitization with pulmonary allergen, and the proteins were colocalized in goblet cells lining the airways of patients with chronic lung diseases. Deletion of the mouse Spdef gene resulted in the absence of goblet cells in tracheal/laryngeal submucosal glands and in the conducting airway epithelium after pulmonary allergen exposure in vivo. These data show that SPDEF plays a critical role in regulating a transcriptional network mediating the goblet cell differentiation and mucus hyperproduction associated with chronic pulmonary disorders.
Gang Chen, Thomas R. Korfhagen, Yan Xu, Joseph Kitzmiller, Susan E. Wert, Yutaka Maeda, Alexander Gregorieff, Hans Clevers, Jeffrey A. Whitsett
Neural crest cells (NCCs) participate in the remodeling of the cardiac outflow tract and pharyngeal arch arteries during cardiovascular development. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) mediates signal transduction by integrin and growth factor receptors, each of which is important for normal cardiovascular development. To investigate the role of FAK in NCC morphogenesis, we deleted it in murine NCCs using Wnt1cre, yielding craniofacial and cardiovascular malformations resembling those observed in individuals with DiGeorge syndrome. In these mice, we observed normal cardiac NCC migration but reduced differentiation into smooth muscle within the aortic arch arteries and impaired cardiac outflow tract rotation, which resulted in a dextroposed aortic root. Moreover, within the conotruncal cushions, Fak-deficient NCCs formed a less organized mesenchyme, with reduced expression of perlecan and semaphorin 3C, and exhibited disorganized F-actin stress fibers within the aorticopulmonary septum. Additionally, absence of Fak resulted in reduced in vivo phosphorylation of Crkl and Erk1/2, components of a signaling pathway essential for NCC development. Consistent with this, both TGF-β and FGF induced FAK and Crkl phosphorylation in control but not Fak-deficient NCCs in vitro. Our results indicate that FAK plays an essential role in cardiac outflow tract development by promoting the activation of molecules such as Crkl and Erk1/2.
Ainara Vallejo-Illarramendi, Keling Zang, Louis F. Reichardt
Notch signaling is vital for proper cardiovascular development and function in both humans and animal models. Indeed, mutations in either JAGGED or NOTCH cause congenital heart disease in humans and NOTCH mutations are associated with adult valvular disease. Notch typically functions to mediate developmental interactions between adjacent tissues. Here we show that either absence of the Notch ligand Jagged1 or inhibition of Notch signaling in second heart field tissues results in murine aortic arch artery and cardiac anomalies. In mid-gestation, these mutants displayed decreased Fgf8 and Bmp4 expression. Notch inhibition within the second heart field affected the development of neighboring tissues. For example, faulty migration of cardiac neural crest cells and defective endothelial-mesenchymal transition within the outflow tract endocardial cushions were observed. Furthermore, exogenous Fgf8 was sufficient to rescue the defect in endothelial-mesenchymal transition in explant assays of endocardial cushions following Notch inhibition within second heart field derivatives. These data support a model that relates second heart field, neural crest, and endocardial cushion development and suggests that perturbed Notch-Jagged signaling within second heart field progenitors accounts for some forms of congenital and adult cardiac disease.
Frances A. High, Rajan Jain, Jason Z. Stoller, Nicole B. Antonucci, Min Min Lu, Kathleen M. Loomes, Klaus H. Kaestner, Warren S. Pear, Jonathan A. Epstein
Congenital anomalies affecting the ureter-bladder junction are frequent in newborns and are often associated with other developmental defects. However, the molecular and morphological processes underlying these malformations are still poorly defined. In this study, we identified the leukocyte antigen–related (LAR) family protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, S and F (Ptprs and Ptprf [also known as Lar], respectively), as crucially important for distal ureter maturation and craniofacial morphogenesis in the mouse. Embryos lacking both Ptprs and Ptprf displayed severe urogenital malformations, characterized by hydroureter and ureterocele, and craniofacial defects such as cleft palate, micrognathia, and exencephaly. The detailed analysis of distal ureter maturation, the process by which the ureter is displaced toward its final position in the bladder wall, leads us to propose a revised model of ureter maturation in normal embryos. This process was deficient in embryos lacking Ptprs and Ptprf as a result of a marked reduction in intrinsic programmed cell death, thereby causing urogenital system malformations. In cell culture, Ptprs bound and negatively regulated the phosphorylation and signaling of the Ret receptor tyrosine kinase, whereas Ptprs-induced apoptosis was inhibited by Ret expression. Together, these results suggest that ureter positioning is controlled by the opposing actions of Ret and LAR family phosphatases regulating apoptosis-mediated tissue morphogenesis.
Noriko Uetani, Kristen Bertozzi, Melanie J. Chagnon, Wiljan Hendriks, Michel L. Tremblay, Maxime Bouchard
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are administered to human fetuses at risk of premature delivery and to infants with life-threatening respiratory and cardiac conditions. However, there are ongoing concerns about adverse effects of GC treatment on the developing human brain, although the precise molecular mechanisms underlying GC-induced brain injury are unclear. Here, we identified what we believe to be novel cross-antagonistic interactions of Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and GC signaling in proliferating mouse cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs). Chronic GC treatment (from P0 through P7) in mouse pups inhibited Shh-induced proliferation and upregulation of expression of N-myc, Gli1, and D-type cyclin protein in CGNPs. Conversely, acute GC treatment (on P7 only) caused transient apoptosis. Shh signaling antagonized these effects of GCs, in part by induction of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11βHSD2). Importantly, 11βHSD2 antagonized the effects of the GCs corticosterone, hydrocortisone, and prednisolone, but not the synthetic GC dexamethasone. Our findings indicate that Shh signaling is protective in the setting of GC-induced mouse neonatal brain injury. Furthermore, they led us to propose that 11βHSD2-sensitive GCs (e.g., hydrocortisone) should be used in preference to dexamethasone in neonatal human infants because of the potential for reduced neurotoxicity.
Vivi M. Heine, David H. Rowitch
Individuals with the birth defect synpolydactyly (SPD) have 1 or more digit duplicated and 2 or more digits fused together. One form of SPD is caused by polyalanine expansions in homeobox d13 (Hoxd13). Here we have used the naturally occurring mouse mutant that has the same mutation, the SPD homolog (Spdh) allele, and a similar phenotype, to investigate the molecular pathogenesis of SPD. A transgenic approach and crossing experiments showed that the Spdh allele is a combination of loss and gain of function. Here we identify retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (Raldh2), the rate-limiting enzyme for retinoic acid (RA) synthesis in the limb, as a direct Hoxd13 target and show decreased RA production in limbs from Spdh/Spdh mice. Intrauterine treatment with RA restored pentadactyly in Spdh/Spdh mice. We further show that RA and WT Hoxd13 suppress chondrogenesis in mesenchymal progenitor cells, whereas Hoxd13 encoded by Spdh promotes cartilage formation in primary cells isolated from Spdh/Spdh limbs, and that this was associated with increased expression of Sox6/9. Increased Sox9 expression and ectopic cartilage formation in the interdigital mesenchyme of limbs from Spdh/Spdh mice suggest uncontrolled differentiation of these cells into the chondrocytic lineage. Thus, we propose that mutated Hoxd13 causes polydactyly in SPD by inducing extraneous interdigital chondrogenesis, both directly and indirectly, via a reduction in RA levels.
Pia Kuss, Pablo Villavicencio-Lorini, Florian Witte, Joachim Klose, Andrea N. Albrecht, Petra Seemann, Jochen Hecht, Stefan Mundlos
Based on extensive preclinical data, glycogen synthase kinase–3 (GSK-3) has been proposed to be a viable drug target for a wide variety of disease states, ranging from diabetes to bipolar disorder. Since these new drugs, which will be more powerful GSK-3 inhibitors than lithium, may potentially be given to women of childbearing potential, and since it has controversially been suggested that lithium therapy might be linked to congenital cardiac defects, we asked whether GSK-3 family members are required for normal heart development in mice. We report that terminal cardiomyocyte differentiation was substantially blunted in Gsk3b–/– embryoid bodies. While GSK-3α–deficient mice were born without a cardiac phenotype, no live-born Gsk3b–/– pups were recovered. The Gsk3b–/– embryos had a double outlet RV, ventricular septal defects, and hypertrophic myopathy, with near obliteration of the ventricular cavities. The hypertrophic myopathy was caused by cardiomyocyte hyperproliferation without hypertrophy and was associated with increased expression and nuclear localization of three regulators of proliferation — GATA4, cyclin D1, and c-Myc. These studies, which we believe are the first in mammals to examine the role of GSK-3α and GSK-3β in the heart using loss-of-function approaches, implicate GSK-3β as a central regulator of embryonic cardiomyocyte proliferation and differentiation, as well as of outflow tract development. Although controversy over the teratogenic effects of lithium remains, our studies suggest that caution should be exercised in the use of newer, more potent drugs targeting GSK-3 in women of childbearing age.
Risto Kerkela, Lisa Kockeritz, Katrina MacAulay, Jibin Zhou, Bradley W. Doble, Cara Beahm, Sarah Greytak, Kathleen Woulfe, Chinmay M. Trivedi, James R. Woodgett, Jonathan A. Epstein, Thomas Force, Gordon S. Huggins
Joubert syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by congenital malformation of the cerebellum and brainstem, with abnormal decussation in the brain. Mutations in the Abelson helper integration site 1 gene, which encodes the protein AHI1, have been shown to cause Joubert syndrome. In this study, we found that mouse Ahi1 formed a stable complex with huntingtin-associated protein 1 (Hap1), which is critical for neonatal development and involved in intracellular trafficking. Hap1-knockout mice showed significantly reduced Ahi1 levels, defective cerebellar development, and abnormal axonal decussation. Suppression of Ahi1 also decreased the level of Hap1; and truncated Ahi1, which corresponds to the mutations in Joubert syndrome, inhibited neurite outgrowth in neuronal culture. Reducing Hap1 expression suppressed the level and internalization of TrkB, a neurotrophic factor receptor that mediates neurogenesis and neuronal differentiation, which led to decreased TrkB signaling. These findings provide insight into the pathogenesis of Joubert syndrome and demonstrate the critical role of the Ahi1-Hap1 complex in early brain development.
Guoqing Sheng, Xingshun Xu, Yung-Feng Lin, Chuan-En Wang, Juan Rong, Dongmei Cheng, Junmin Peng, Xiaoyan Jiang, Shi-Hua Li, Xiao-Jiang Li
Transcription factors regulate tissue patterning and cell fate determination during development; however, expression of early regulators frequently abates upon differentiation, suggesting that they may also play a role in maintaining an undifferentiated phenotype. The transcription factor paired box 3 (Pax3) is expressed by multipotent neural crest precursors and is implicated in neural crest disorders in humans such as Waardenburg syndrome. Pax3 is required for development of multiple neural crest lineages and for activation of lineage-specific programs, yet expression is generally extinguished once neural crest cells migrate from the dorsal neural tube and differentiate. Using a murine Cre-inducible system, we asked whether persistent Pax3 expression in neural crest derivatives would affect development or patterning. We found that persistent expression of Pax3 in cranial neural crest cells resulted in cleft palate, ocular defects, malformation of the sphenoid bone, and perinatal lethality. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Pax3 directly regulates expression of Sostdc1, a soluble inhibitor of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling. Persistent Pax3 expression renders the cranial crest resistant to BMP-induced osteogenesis. Thus, one mechanism by which Pax3 maintains the undifferentiated state of neural crest mesenchyme may be to block responsiveness to differentiation signals from the environment. These studies provide in vivo evidence for the importance of Pax3 downregulation during differentiation of multipotent neural crest precursors and cranial development.
Meilin Wu, Jun Li, Kurt A. Engleka, Bo Zhou, Min Min Lu, Joshua B. Plotkin, Jonathan A. Epstein
Becoming a phenotypic male is ultimately determined by androgen-induced masculinization. Disorders of fetal masculinization, resulting in hypospadias or cryptorchidism, are common, but their cause remains unclear. Together with the adult-onset disorders low sperm count and testicular cancer, they can constitute a testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS). Although masculinization is well studied, no unifying concept explains normal male reproductive development and its abnormalities, including TDS. We exposed rat fetuses to either anti-androgens or androgens and showed that masculinization of all reproductive tract tissues was programmed by androgen action during a common fetal programming window. This preceded morphological differentiation, when androgen action was, surprisingly, unnecessary. Only within the programming window did blocking androgen action induce hypospadias and cryptorchidism and altered penile length in male rats, all of which correlated with anogenital distance (AGD). Androgen-driven masculinization of females was also confined to the same programming window. This work has identified in rats a common programming window in which androgen action is essential for normal reproductive tract masculinization and has highlighted that measuring AGD in neonatal humans could provide a noninvasive method to predict neonatal and adult reproductive disorders. Based on the timings in rats, we believe the programming window in humans is likely to be 8–14 weeks of gestation.
Michelle Welsh, Philippa T.K. Saunders, Mark Fisken, Hayley M. Scott, Gary R. Hutchison, Lee B. Smith, Richard M. Sharpe
No posts were found with this tag.