Notch signaling regulates regeneration in the avian retina.
ABSTRACT: The chicken retina is capable of limited regeneration. In response to injury, some Müller glia proliferate and de-differentiate into progenitor cells. However, most of these progenitors fail to differentiate into neurons. The Notch pathway is upregulated during retinal regeneration in both fish and amphibians. Since the Notch signaling pathway maintains cells in a progenitor state during development, we hypothesized that a persistently active Notch pathway might prevent a more successful regeneration in the chick retina. We found that Notch signaling components are upregulated in the proliferating progenitors. We also found that blocking the Notch pathway while Müller glia are de-differentiating into progenitor cells prohibits regeneration; conversely, blocking the Notch pathway after the progenitors have been generated from the Müller glia caused a significant increase in the percentage of new neurons. Thus, Notch signaling appears to play two distinct roles during retinal regeneration. Initially, Notch activity is necessary for the de-differentiation/proliferation of Müller glia, while later it inhibits the differentiation of the newly generated progenitor cells.
Project description:Müller glia (MG) are the only glial cell type produced by the neuroepithelial progenitor cells that generate the vertebrate retina. MG are required to maintain retinal homeostasis and support the survival of retinal neurons. Furthermore, in certain vertebrate classes, MG function as adult stem cells, mediating retinal regeneration in response to injury. However, the mechanisms that regulate MG development are poorly understood because there is considerable overlap in gene expression between retinal progenitor cells and differentiated MG. We show that the LIM homeodomain transcription factor Lhx2 is required for the development of MG in the mouse retina. Temporally controlled knock-out studies reveal a requirement for Lhx2 during all stages of MG development, ranging from the proliferation of gliocompetent retinal progenitors, activation of Müller-specific gene expression, and terminal differentiation of MG morphological features. We show that Lhx2 regulates gliogenesis in part by regulating directly the expression of Notch pathway genes including Notch1, Dll1, and Dll3 and gliogenic transcription factors such as Hes1, Hes5, Sox8, and Rax. Conditional knock-out of Lhx2 resulted in a rapid downregulation of Notch pathway genes and loss of Notch signaling. We further demonstrate that Müller gliogenesis induced by misexpression of the potently gliogenic Notch pathway transcriptional effector Hes5 requires Lhx2 expression. These results indicate that Lhx2 not only directly regulates expression of Notch signaling pathway components, but also acts together with the gliogenic Notch pathway to drive MG specification and differentiation.
Project description:The adult zebrafish retina exhibits a robust regenerative response following light-induced photoreceptor cell death. This response is initiated by the Müller glia proliferating in the inner nuclear layer (INL), which gives rise to neuronal progenitor cells that continue to divide and migrate to the outer nuclear layer (ONL), where they differentiate into rod and cone photoreceptors. We previously conducted a microarray analysis of retinal gene expression at 16, 31, 51, 68, and 96 h of constant intense-light treatment to identify genes and their corresponding proteins that may be involved in the generation and proliferation of the neuronal progenitor cells. We examined the expression of two candidate transcription factors, Pax6 and Ngn1, and one candidate transgene, olig2:EGFP, in the regenerating light-damaged retina. We compared the temporal and spatial expression patterns of these markers relative to PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen), an established marker for proliferating cells in the zebrafish retina, and the Tg(gfap:EGFP) nt11 transgenic line that specifically labels Müller glial cells. We found that Müller glial cells dedifferentiate during regeneration, based on the loss of cell-specific markers such as GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) and glutamine synthetase following their reentry into the cell cycle to produce neuronal progenitors. Pax6 expression was first detected in the proliferating neuronal progenitors by 51 h of constant light treatment, which is significantly after the Müller glia first reenter the cell cycle after 31h of light. This suggests that Pax6 expression increases in neuronal progenitors, rather than in the proliferating Müller glia. EGFP expression from the olig2 promoter was first detected by 68 h of constant light treatment in the dedifferentiated Müller glia, with Pax6 expressed in the closely associated proliferating neuronal progenitors migrating to the ONL. Both Pax6 and olig2 expression persisted until 3 days post-light treatment, when the neuronal progenitors begin differentiating into new rod and cone photoreceptors. Ngn1 protein expression was initially detected in proliferating neuronal progenitors at 68 h of light treatment. However, Ngn1 expression persisted in a subset of the INL nuclei until 17 days post-light treatment. Using the Tg(gfap:EGFP) nt11 transgenic line, Ngn1 was localized to the Müller glial nuclei that were reestablished following the regenerative response. These markers, therefore, can be used to identify different cell types at particular stages of retinal regeneration: neuronal progenitor formation, proliferation, and the reestablishment of the Müller glia cells. These markers will be important to further characterize the regeneration response in other retinal damage models and to elucidate the defects associated with mutants and morphants that disrupt the regeneration response.
Project description:Within discrete regions of the developing mammalian central nervous system, small subsets of glia become specialized to function as neural stem cells. As a result of their self-renewal and neurogenic capacity, these cells later serve to replenish neurons and glia during persistent or injury-induced adult neurogenesis. SOX2, an HMG box transcription factor, plays an essential role in the maintenance of both embryonic and adult neural progenitors. It is unclear, however, which biological mechanisms regulated by SOX2 are required for neural stem cell maintenance. In this study, we address this question through genetic analysis of SOX2 function in differentiating postnatal Müller glia, a cell type that maintains neurogenic capacity in the adult retina. By utilizing molecular analysis and real-time imaging, we show that two progenitor characteristics of nascent Müller glia - their radial morphology and cell cycle quiescence - are disrupted following conditional genetic ablation of Sox2 in the mouse postnatal retina, leading to Müller cell depletion and retinal degeneration. Moreover, we demonstrate that genetic induction of the Notch signaling pathway restores Müller glial cell identity to Sox2 mutant cells, but does not secure their quiescent state. Collectively, these results uncouple the roles of SOX2 and the Notch signaling pathway in the postnatal retina, and uncover a novel role for SOX2 in preventing the depletion of postnatal Müller glia through terminal cell division.
Project description:Müller glia (MG) dedifferentiation into a cycling population of multipotent progenitors is crucial to zebrafish retina regeneration. The mechanisms underlying MG dedifferentiation are unknown. Here we report that heparin-binding epidermal-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is rapidly induced in MG residing at the injury site and that pro-HB-EGF ectodomain shedding is necessary for retina regeneration. Remarkably, HB-EGF stimulates the formation of multipotent MG-derived progenitors in the uninjured retina. We show that HB-EGF mediates its effects via an EGFR/MAPK signal transduction cascade that regulates the expression of regeneration-associated genes, like ascl1a and pax6(b). We also uncover an HB-EGF/Ascl1a/Notch/hb-egf(a)-signaling loop that helps define the zone of injury-responsive MG. Finally, we show that HB-EGF acts upstream of the Wnt/?-catenin-signaling cascade that controls progenitor proliferation. These data provide a link between extracellular signaling and regeneration-associated gene expression in the injured retina and suggest strategies for stimulating retina regeneration in mammals.
Project description:Previous studies have shown that Müller glia are closely related to retinal progenitors; these two cell types express many of the same genes and after damage to the retina, Müller glia can serve as a source for new neurons, particularly in non-mammalian vertebrates. We investigated the period of postnatal retinal development when progenitors are differentiating into Müller glia to better understand this transition. FACS purified retinal progenitors and Müller glia from various ages of Hes5-GFP mice were analyzed by Affymetrix cDNA microarrays. We found that genes known to be enriched/expressed by Müller glia steadily increase over the first three postnatal weeks, while genes associated with the mitotic cell cycle are rapidly downregulated from P0 to P7. Interestingly, progenitor genes not directly associated with the mitotic cell cycle, like the proneural genes Ascl1 and Neurog2, decline more slowly over the first 10-14 days of postnatal development, and there is a peak in Notch signaling several days after the presumptive Müller glia have been generated. To confirm that Notch signaling continues in the postmitotic Müller glia, we performed in situ hybridization, immunolocalization for the active form of Notch, and immunofluorescence for BrdU. Using genetic and pharmacological approaches, we found that sustained Notch signaling in the postmitotic Müller glia is necessary for their maturation and the stabilization of the glial identity for almost a week after the cells have exited the mitotic cell cycle.
Project description:The zebrafish retina maintains two populations of stem cells: first, the germinal zone or ciliary marginal zone (CMZ) contains multipotent retinal progenitors that add cells to the retinal periphery as the fish continue to grow; second, radial glia (Müller cells) occasionally divide asymmetrically to generate committed progenitors that differentiate into rod photoreceptors, which are added interstitially throughout the retina with growth. Retinal injury stimulates Müller glia to dedifferentiate, re-enter the cell cycle, and generate multipotent retinal progenitors similar to those in the CMZ to replace missing neurons. The specific signals that maintain these two distinct populations of endogenous retinal stem cells are not understood.We used genetic and pharmacological manipulation of the ?-catenin/Wnt signaling pathway to show that it is required to maintain proliferation in the CMZ and that hyperstimulation of ?-catenin/Wnt signaling inhibits normal retinal differentiation and expands the population of proliferative retinal progenitors. To test whether similar effects occur during regeneration, we developed a method for making rapid, selective photoreceptor ablations in larval zebrafish with intense light. We found that dephosphorylated ?-catenin accumulates in Müller glia as they re-enter the cell cycle following injury, but not in Müller glia that remain quiescent. Activation of Wnt signaling is required for regenerative proliferation, and hyperstimulation results in loss of Müller glia from the INL as all proliferative cells move into the ONL.?-catenin/Wnt signaling is thus required for the maintenance of retinal progenitors during both initial development and lesion-induced regeneration, and is sufficient to prevent differentiation of those progenitors and maintain them in a proliferative state. This suggests that the ?-catenin/Wnt cascade is part of the shared molecular circuitry that maintains retinal stem cells for both homeostatic growth and epimorphic regeneration.
Project description:The adult zebrafish retina possesses a robust regenerative response. In the light-damaged retina, Müller glial cell divisions precede regeneration of rod and cone photoreceptors. Neuronal progenitors, which arise from the Müller glia, continue to divide and use the Müller glial cell processes to migrate to the outer nuclear layer and replace the lost photoreceptors. We tested the necessity of Müller glial cell division for photoreceptor regeneration. As knockdown tools were unavailable for use in the adult zebrafish retina, we developed a method to conditionally inhibit the expression of specific proteins by in vivo electroporation of morpholinos. We determined that two separate morpholinos targeted against the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) mRNA reduced PCNA protein levels. Furthermore, injection and in vivo electroporation of PCNA morpholinos immediately prior to starting intense light exposure inhibited both Müller glial cell proliferation and neuronal progenitor marker Pax6 expression. PCNA knockdown additionally resulted in decreased expression of glutamine synthetase in Müller glia and Müller glial cell death, while amacrine and ganglion cells were unaffected. Finally, histological and immunological methods showed that long-term effects of PCNA knockdown resulted in decreased numbers of Müller glia and the failure to regenerate rod photoreceptors, short single cones, and long single cones. These data suggest that Müller glial cell division is necessary for proper photoreceptor regeneration in the light-damaged zebrafish retina and are consistent with the Müller glia serving as the source of neuronal progenitor cells in regenerating teleost retinas.
Project description:The ability to regenerate the entire retina and restore lost sight after injury is found in some species and relies mostly on the epigenetic plasticity of Müller glia. To understand the role of mammalian Müller glia as a source of progenitors for retinal regeneration, we investigated changes in gene expression during differentiation of retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) into Müller glia and analyzed the global epigenetic profile of adult Müller glia. We observed significant changes in gene expression during differentiation of RPCs into Müller glia in only a small group of genes and found a high similarity between RPCs and Müller glia on the transcriptomic and epigenomic levels. Our findings also indicate that Müller glia are epigenetically very close to late-born retinal neurons, but not early-born retinal neurons. Importantly, we found that key genes required for phototransduction were highly methylated. Thus, our data suggest that Müller glia are epigenetically very similar to late RPCs; however, obstacles for regeneration of the entire mammalian retina from Müller glia may consist of repressive chromatin and highly methylated DNA in the promoter regions of many genes required for the development of early-born retinal neurons. In addition, DNA demethylation may be required for proper reprogramming and differentiation of Müller glia into rod photoreceptors.
Project description:Unlike mammals, teleost fish can regenerate an injured retina, restoring lost visual function. Little is known of the molecular events that underlie retina regeneration. We previously found that in zebrafish, retinal injury stimulates Müller glia to generate multipotent alpha1-tubulin (alpha1T) and pax6-expressing progenitors for retinal repair. Here, we report the identification of a critical E-box in the alpha1T promoter that mediates transactivation by achaete-scute complex-like 1a (ascl1a) during retina regeneration. More importantly, we show that ascl1a is essential for retina regeneration. Within 4 h after retinal injury, ascl1a is induced in Müller glia. Knockdown of ascl1a blocks the induction of alpha1T and pax6 as well as Müller glial proliferation, consequently preventing the generation of retinal progenitors and their differentiated progeny. These data suggest ascl1a is required to convert quiescent Müller glia into actively dividing retinal progenitors, and that ascl1a is a key regulator in initiating retina regeneration.
Project description:Notch signaling is known to play important roles during retinal development. Recently, Notch signaling has been shown to be active in proliferating Müller glia in acutely damaged chick retina (Hayes et al., 2007). However, the roles of Notch in mature, undamaged retina remain unknown. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the role of the Notch-signaling pathway in the postnatal retina. Here we show that components of the Notch-signaling pathway are expressed in most Müller glia at low levels in undamaged retina. The expression of Notch-related genes varies during early postnatal development and across regions, with higher expression in peripheral versus central retina. Blockade of Notch activity with a small molecule inhibitor before damage was protective to retinal interneurons (amacrine and bipolar cells) and projection neurons (ganglion cells). In the absence of damage, Notch is upregulated in retinas treated with insulin and FGF2; the combination of these factors is known to stimulate the proliferation and dedifferentiation of Müller glia (Fischer et al., 2002b). Inhibition of Notch signaling during FGF2 treatment reduces levels of the downstream effectors of the MAPK-signaling pathway-p38 MAPK and pCREB in Müller glia. Further, inhibition of Notch activity potently inhibits FGF2-induced proliferation of Müller glia. Together, our data indicate that Notch signaling is downstream of, and is required for, FGF2/MAPK signaling to drive the proliferation of Müller glia. In addition, our data suggest that low levels of Notch signaling in Müller glia diminish the neuroprotective activities of these glial cells.