Cell Cycle-Dependent ERK Signaling Dynamics Direct Fate Specification in the Mammalian Preimplantation Embryo
ABSTRACT: Despite the noisy nature of single cells, multicellular organisms robustly generate different cell types from one zygote. This process involves dynamic cross regulation between signaling and gene expression that is difficult to capture with fixed-cell approaches. To study signaling dynamics and fate specification during preimplantation development, we generated a transgenic mouse expressing the ERK Kinase Translocation Reporter and measured ERK activity in single cells of live embryos. Our results show primarily active ERK in both the inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells due to FGF signaling. Strikingly, a subset of mitotic events result in a short pulse of ERK inactivity in both daughter cells that correlates with elevated endpoint NANOG levels. Moreover, endogenous tagging of Nanog in embryonic stem cells reveals that ERK inhibition promotes enhanced stabilization of NANOG protein after mitosis. Our data show that cell cycle, signaling, and differentiation are coordinated during preimplantation development.
Project description:Despite the noisy nature of single cells, multicellular organisms robustly generate different cell types from one zygote. This process involves dynamic cross regulation between signaling and gene expression that is difficult to capture with fixed-cell approaches. To study signaling dynamics and fate specification during preimplantation development, we generated a transgenic mouse expressing the ERK Kinase Translocation Reporter and measured ERK activity in single cells of live embryos. Our results show primarily active ERK in both the inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells due to FGF signaling. Strikingly, a subset of mitotic events result in a short pulse of ERK inactivity in both daughter cells that correlates with elevated endpoint NANOG levels. Moreover, endogenous tagging of Nanog in embryonic stem cells reveals that ERK inhibition promotes enhanced stabilization of NANOG protein after mitosis. Our data show that cell cycle, signaling, and differentiation are coordinated during preimplantation development.
Project description:Segregation of the trophectoderm from the inner cell mass of the embryo represents the first cell-fate decision of mammalian development. Transcription factors essential for specifying trophectoderm have been identified, but the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in modulating this fate-choice has been largely unexplored. We have compared miRNA expression in embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived trophectoderm and in staged murine embryos to identify a set of candidate miRNAs likely to be involved in trophectoderm specification.We profiled embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as they were induced to differentiate into trophectodermal cells by ectopic expression of HRas/Q61L. We also profiled murine embryos at progressive stages of preimplantation development (zygote, 2-cell, 4-cell, 8-cell, morula, and blastocyst), which includes the time window in which the trophectoderm is specified in vivo Q61L/H.We describe miRNA expression changes that occur during trophectoderm specification and validate that our in vitro system faithfully recapitulates trophectoderm specification in vivo. By comparing our in vitro and in vivo datasets, we have identified a minimal set of candidate miRNAs likely to play a role in trophectoderm specification. These miRNAs are predicted to regulate a host of development-associated target genes, and many of these miRNAs have previously reported roles in development and differentiation. Additionally, we highlight a number of miRNAs whose tight developmental regulation may reflect a functional role in other stages of embryogenesis. Our embryo profiling data may be useful to investigators studying trophectoderm specification and other stages of preimplantation development.
Project description:Mining gene-expression-profiling data identified a novel gene that is specifically expressed in preimplantation embryos. Hmgpi, a putative chromosomal protein with two high-mobility-group boxes, is zygotically transcribed during zygotic genome activation, but is not transcribed postimplantation. The Hmgpi-encoded protein (HMGPI), first detected at the 4-cell stage, remains highly expressed in pre-implantation embryos. Interestingly, HMGPI is expressed in both the inner cell mass (ICM) and the trophectoderm, and translocated from cytoplasm to nuclei at the blastocyst stage, indicating differential spatial requirements before and after the blastocyst stage. siRNA (siHmgpi)-induced reduction of Hmgpi transcript levels caused developmental loss of preimplantation embryos and implantation failures. Furthermore, reduction of Hmgpi prevented blastocyst outgrowth leading to generation of embryonic stem cells. The siHmgpi-injected embryos also lost ICM and trophectoderm integrity, demarcated by reduced expressions of Oct4, Nanog and Cdx2. The findings implicated an important role for Hmgpi at the earliest stages of mammalian embryonic development.
Project description:The objective was to study the expression of zonula occludens-2, a tight junction protein, during preimplantation hamster embryonic development, to predict its possible localization, source, and roles in trophectoderm differentiation and blastocyst formation in this species. Comparison of zonula occludens-2 expression pattern between the hamster and mouse preimplantation embryos from the zygote up to the blastocyst stage was also an objective of this study. Zonula occludens-2 localization was noted in nuclei of blastomeres in all stages of hamster and mouse embryonic development. Compared to mice, where zonula occludens-2 was first localized in the interblastomere membrane at the morula stage, hamster embryos had membranous zonula occludens-2 localization from the 2-cell stage onwards. Based on combined results of immunolocalization study in parthenogenic embryos and ovarian and epididymal sections, and quantitative PCR done in oocytes and all developmental stages of preimplantation embryos, perhaps there was a carry-over of zonula occludens-2 proteins or mRNA from the dam to the embryo. Based on these findings, we inferred that maternally derived zonula occludens-2 was involved in nuclear functions, as well as differentiation of blastomeres and blastocoel formation during preimplantation embryonic development in the hamster.
Project description:In preimplantation mammalian development the transcription factor Sox2 (SRY-related HMG-box gene 2) forms a complex with Oct4 and functions in maintenance of self-renewal of the pluripotent inner cell mass (ICM). Previously it was shown that Sox2-/- embryos die soon after implantation. However, maternal Sox2 transcripts may mask an earlier phenotype. We investigated whether Sox2 is involved in controlling cell fate decisions at an earlier stage.We addressed the question of an earlier role for Sox2 using RNAi, which removes both maternal and embryonic Sox2 mRNA present during the preimplantation period. By depleting both maternal and embryonic Sox2 mRNA at the 2-cell stage and monitoring embryo development in vitro we show that, in the absence of Sox2, embryos arrest at the morula stage and fail to form trophectoderm (TE) or cavitate. Following knock-down of Sox2 via three different short interfering RNA (siRNA) constructs in 2-cell stage mouse embryos, we have shown that the majority of embryos (76%) arrest at the morula stage or slightly earlier and only 18.7-21% form blastocysts compared to 76.2-83% in control groups. In Sox2 siRNA-treated embryos expression of pluripotency associated markers Oct4 and Nanog remained unaffected, whereas TE associated markers Tead4, Yap, Cdx2, Eomes, Fgfr2, as well as Fgf4, were downregulated in the absence of Sox2. Apoptosis was also increased in Sox2 knock-down embryos. Rescue experiments using cell-permeant Sox2 protein resulted in increased blastocyst formation from 18.7% to 62.6% and restoration of Sox2, Oct4, Cdx2 and Yap protein levels in the rescued Sox2-siRNA blastocysts.We conclude that the first essential function of Sox2 in the preimplantation mouse embryo is to facilitate establishment of the trophectoderm lineage. Our findings provide a novel insight into the first differentiation event within the preimplantation embryo, namely the segregation of the ICM and TE lineages.
Project description:Insulin-like growth factor I receptor (Igf1r) signaling controls proliferation, differentiation, growth, and cell survival in many tissues; and its deregulated activity is involved in tumorigenesis. Although important during fetal growth and postnatal life, a function for the Igf pathway during preimplantation development has not been described. We show that abrogating Igf1r signaling with specific inhibitors blocks trophectoderm formation and compromises embryo survival during murine blastocyst formation. In normal embryos total Igf1r is present throughout the membrane, whereas the activated form is found exclusively at cell contact sites, colocalizing with E-cadherin. Using genetic domain switching, we show a requirement for E-cadherin to maintain proper activation of Igf1r. Embryos expressing exclusively a cadherin chimera with N-cadherin extracellular and E-cadherin intracellular domains (NcEc) fail to form a trophectoderm and cells die by apoptosis. In contrast, homozygous mutant embryos expressing a reverse-structured chimera (EcNc) show trophectoderm survival and blastocoel cavitation, indicating a crucial and non-substitutable role of the E-cadherin ectodomain for these processes. Strikingly, blastocyst formation can be rescued in homozygous NcEc embryos by restoring Igf1r signaling, which enhances cell survival. Hence, perturbation of E-cadherin extracellular integrity, independent of its cell-adhesion function, blocked Igf1r signaling and induced cell death in the trophectoderm. Our results reveal an important and yet undiscovered function of Igf1r during preimplantation development mediated by a unique physical interaction between Igf1r and E-cadherin indispensable for proper receptor activation and anti-apoptotic signaling. We provide novel insights into how ligand-dependent Igf1r activity is additionally gated to sense developmental potential in utero and into a bifunctional role of adhesion molecules in contact formation and signaling.
Project description:The first cell lineage determination in embryos takes place when two cell populations are set apart, each differentiating into the trophectoderm (TE) and inner cell mass (ICM), respectively. It is widely believed that position/polarity cues play a key role in triggering this differentiation, but it remains unclear how extracellular cues are transduced into cell fate determination. Here, we provide evidence that supports that neogenin is implicated in relaying extracellular cues into the first cell fate determination in preimplantation mouse embryos. A polarized and transient distribution of neogenin was manifested in early blastomeres. Neogenin up-regulation by its overexpression accelerated ICM development in the blastocyst concomitant with the activation of the ICM-specific transcription factors Oct3/4, Sox2, and Nanog while its depletion by small hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) caused a developmental abnormality of poorly endowed ICM accompanied by the deactivation of Oct3/4, Sox2, and Nanog. Treatment with netrin-1 among neogenin ligands further impaired both embryonic development and ICM formation while repulsive guidance molecule c (RGMc) led to opposite consequences, enhancing ICM formation. From this study, we propose a model whereby neogenin interprets its own expression level to control the first cell fate determination in response to extracellular cues.
Project description:During mouse preimplantation embryo development, three distinct cell lineages are formed, represented by the differentiating trophectoderm (TE), primitive endoderm (PrE) and the pluripotent epiblast (EPI). Classically, lineage derivation has been presented as a two-step process whereby outer TE cells are first segregated from inner-cell mass (ICM), followed by ICM refinement into either the PrE or EPI. As ICM founders can be produced following the fourth or fifth cleavage divisions, their potential to equally contribute to EPI and PrE is contested. Thus, modelling the early sequestration of ICM founders from TE-differentiation after the fourth cleavage division, we examined ICM lineage contribution of varying sized cell clones unable to initiate TE-differentiation. Such TE-inhibited ICM cells do not equally contribute to EPI and PrE and are significantly biased to form EPI. This bias is not caused by enhanced expression of the EPI marker Nanog, nor correlated with reduced apical polarity but associated with reduced expression of PrE-related gene transcripts (Dab2 and Lrp2) and down-regulation of plasma membrane associated Fgfr2. Our results favour a unifying model were the three cell lineages are guided in an integrated, yet flexible, fate decision centred on relative exposure of founder cells to TE-differentiative cues.
Project description:The first binary cell fate decision occurs at the morula stage and gives rise to two distinct types of cells that constitute the trophectoderm (TE) and inner cell mass (ICM). The cell fate determinant, Cdx2, is induced in TE cells and plays an essential role in their differentiation and maintenance. Notch and Hippo signaling cascades are assumed to converge onto regulatory elements of Cdx2, however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, we show involvement of Strawberry Notch1 (Sbno1), a novel chromatin factor of the helicase superfamily 2, during preimplantation development. Sbno1 knockout embryos die at the preimplantation stage without forming a blastocoel, and Cdx2 is not turned on even though both Yap and Tead4 reside normally in nuclei. Accordingly, Sbno1 acts on the trophectoderm-enhancer (TEE) of Cdx2, ensuring its robust and synergistic activation by the Yap/Tead4 and NICD/Rbpj complexes. Interestingly, this synergism is enhanced when cells are mechanically stretched, which might reflect that TE cells are continuously stretched by the expanding ICM and blastocoel cavity. In addition, the histone chaperone, FACT (FAcilitates Chromatin Transcription) physically interacts with Sbno1. Our data provide new evidence on TE specification, highlighting unexpected but essential functions of the highly conserved chromatin factor, Sbno1.
Project description:The specific role of WNT signaling during preimplantation development remains unclear. Here, we evaluated consequences of activation and inhibition of ?-catenin (CTNNB1)-dependent and -independent WNT signaling in the bovine preimplantation embryo. Activation of CTNNB1-mediated WNT signaling by the agonist 2-amino-4-(3,4-(methylenedioxy)benzylamino)-6-(3-methoxyphenyl)pyrimidine (AMBMP) and a glycogen synthase kinase 3 inhibitor reduced development to the blastocyst stage. Moreover, the antagonist of WNT signaling, dickkopf-related protein 1 (DKK1), alleviated the negative effect of AMBMP on development via reduction of CTNNB1. Based on labeling for phospho c-Jun N-terminal kinase, there was no evidence that DKK1 activated the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. Inhibition of secretion of endogenous WNTs did not affect development but increased number of cells in the inner cell mass (ICM). In contrast, DKK1 did not affect number of ICM or trophectoderm (TE) cells, suggesting that embryo-derived WNTs regulate ICM proliferation through a mechanism independent of CTNNB1. In addition, DKK1 did not affect the number of cells positive for the transcription factor yes-associated protein 1 (YAP1) involved in TE formation. In fact, DKK1 decreased YAP1. In contrast, exposure of embryos to WNT family member 7A (WNT7A) improved blastocyst development, inhibited the PCP pathway, and did not affect amounts of CTNNB1. Results indicate that embryo-derived WNTs are dispensable for blastocyst formation but participate in regulation of ICM proliferation, likely through a mechanism independent of CTNNB1. The response to AMBMP and WNT7A leads to the hypothesis that maternally derived WNTs can play a positive or negative role in regulation of preimplantation development.