Expression of the mouse cerberus-related gene, Cerr1, suggests a role in anterior neural induction and somitogenesis.
ABSTRACT: The Xenopus cerberus gene encodes a secreted factor that is expressed in the anterior endomesoderm of gastrula stage embryos and can induce the formation of ectopic heads when its mRNA is injected into Xenopus embryos [Bouwmeester, T., Kim, S., Lu, B. & De Robertis, E. M. (1996) Nature (London) 382, 595-601]. Here we describe the existence of a cerberus-related gene, Cerr1, in the mouse. Cerr1 encodes a putative secreted protein that is 48% identical to cerberus over a 110-amino acid region. Analysis of a mouse interspecific backcross panel demonstrated that Cerr1 mapped to the central portion of mouse chromosome 4. In early gastrula stage mouse embryos, Cerr1 is expressed in the anterior visceral endoderm and in the anterior definitive endoderm. In somite stage embryos, Cerr1 expression is restricted to the most recently formed somites and in the anterior presomitic mesoderm. Germ layer explant recombination assays demonstrated that Cerr1-expressing somitic-presomitic mesoderm, but not older Cerr1-nonexpressing somitic mesoderm, was able to mimic the anterior neuralizing ability of anterior mesendoderm and maintain Otx2 expression in competent ectoderm. In most Lim1-/- headless embryos, Cerr1 expression in the anterior endoderm was weak or absent. These results suggest that Cerr1 may play a role in anterior neural induction and somite formation during mouse development.
Project description:Bipotent axial stem cells residing in the caudal epiblast during late gastrulation generate neuroectodermal and presomitic mesodermal progeny that coordinate somitogenesis with neural tube formation, but the mechanism that controls these two fates is not fully understood. Retinoic acid (RA) restricts the anterior extent of caudal fibroblast growth factor 8 (Fgf8) expression in both mesoderm and neural plate to control somitogenesis and neurogenesis, however it remains unclear where RA acts to control the spatial expression of caudal Fgf8. Here, we found that mouse Raldh2-/- embryos, lacking RA synthesis and displaying a consistent small somite defect, exhibited abnormal expression of key markers of axial stem cell progeny, with decreased Sox2+ and Sox1+ neuroectodermal progeny and increased Tbx6+ presomitic mesodermal progeny. The Raldh2-/- small somite defect was rescued by treatment with an FGF receptor antagonist. Rdh10 mutants, with a less severe RA synthesis defect, were found to exhibit a small somite defect and anterior expansion of caudal Fgf8 expression only for somites 1-6, with normal somite size and Fgf8 expression thereafter. Rdh10 mutants were found to lack RA activity during the early phase when somites are small, but at the 6-somite stage RA activity was detected in neural plate although not in presomitic mesoderm. Expression of a dominant-negative RA receptor in mesoderm eliminated RA activity in presomitic mesoderm but did not affect somitogenesis. Thus, RA activity in the neural plate is sufficient to prevent anterior expansion of caudal Fgf8 expression associated with a small somite defect. Our studies provide evidence that RA restriction of Fgf8 expression in undifferentiated neural progenitors stimulates neurogenesis while also restricting the anterior extent of the mesodermal Fgf8 mRNA gradient that controls somite size, providing new insight into the mechanism that coordinates somitogenesis with neurogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Expression of the mouse Delta-like 1 (Dll1) gene in the presomitic mesoderm and in the caudal halves of somites of the developing embryo is required for the formation of epithelial somites and for the maintenance of caudal somite identity, respectively. The rostro-caudal polarity of somites is initiated early on within the presomitic mesoderm in nascent somites. Here we have investigated the requirement of restricted Dll1 expression in caudal somite compartments for the maintenance of rostro-caudal somite polarity and the morphogenesis of the axial skeleton. We did this by overexpressing a functional copy of the Dll1 gene throughout the paraxial mesoderm, in particular in anterior somite compartments, during somitogenesis in transgenic mice. RESULTS: Epithelial somites were generated normally and appeared histologically normal in embryos of two independent Dll1 over-expressing transgenic lines. Gene expression analyses of rostro-caudal marker genes suggested that over-expression of Dll1 without restriction to caudal compartments was not sufficient to confer caudal identity to rostral somite halves in transgenic embryos. Nevertheless, Dll1 over-expression caused dysmorphologies of the axial skeleton, in particular, in morphological structures that derive from the articular joint forming compartment of vertebrae. Accordingly, transgenic animals exhibited missing or reduced intervertebral discs, rostral and caudal articular processes as well as costal heads of ribs. In addition, the midline of the vertebral column did not develop normally. Transgenic mice had open neural arches and split vertebral bodies with ectopic pseudo-growth plates. Endochondral bone formation and ossification in the developing vertebrae were delayed. CONCLUSION: The mice overexpressing Dll1 exhibit skeletal dysmorphologies that are also evident in several mutant mice with defects in somite compartmentalisation. The Dll1 transgenic mice demonstrate that vertebral dysmorphologies such as bony fusions of vertebrae and midline vertebral defects can occur without apparent changes in somitic rostro-caudal marker gene expression. Also, we demonstrate that the over-expression of the Dll1 gene in rostral epithelial somites is not sufficient to confer caudal identity to rostral compartments. Our data suggest that the restricted Dll1 expression in caudal epithelial somites may be particularly required for the proper development of the intervertebral joint forming compartment.
Project description:Delta-like 3 (Dll3) is a divergent ligand and modulator of the Notch signaling pathway only identified so far in mammals. Null mutations of Dll3 disrupt cycling expression of Notch targets Hes1, Hes5, and Lfng, but not of Hes7. Compared with Dll1 or Notch1, the effects of Dll3 mutations are less severe for gene expression in the presomitic mesoderm, yet severe segmentation phenotypes and vertebral defects result in both human and mouse. Reasoning that Dll3 specifically disrupts key regulators of somite cycling, we carried out functional analysis to identify targets accounting for the segmental phenotype. Using microdissected embryonic tissue from somitic and presomitic mesodermal tissue, we identified new genes enriched in these tissues, including Limch1, Rhpn2, and A130022J15Rik. Surprisingly, we only identified a small number of genes disrupted by the Dll3 mutation. These include Uncx, a somite gene required for rib and vertebral patterning, and Nrarp, a regulator of Notch/Wnt signaling in zebrafish and a cycling gene in mouse. To determine the effects of Dll3 mutation on Nrarp, we characterized the cycling expression of this gene from early (8.5 dpc) to late (10.5 dpc) somitogenesis. Nrarp displays a distinct pattern of cycling phases when compared to Lfng and Axin2 (a Wnt pathway gene) at 9.5 dpc but appears to be in phase with Lfng by 10.5 dpc. Nrarp cycling appears to require Dll3 but not Lfng modulation. In Dll3 null embryos, Nrarp displayed static patterns. However, in Lfng null embryos, Nrarp appeared static at 8.5 dpc but resumed cycling expression by 9.5 and dynamic expression at 10.5 dpc stages. By contrast, in Wnt3a null embryos, Nrarp expression was completely absent in the presomitic mesoderm. Towards identifying the role of Dll3 in regulating somitogenesis, Nrarp emerges as a potentially important regulator that requires Dll3 but not Lfng for normal function.
Project description:Vertebrate segmentation is characterized by the periodic formation of epithelial somites from the mesenchymal presomitic mesoderm (PSM). How the rhythmic signaling pulse delivered by the segmentation clock is translated into the periodic morphogenesis of somites remains poorly understood. Here, we focused on the role of paraxial protocadherin (PAPC/Pcdh8) in this process. We showed that in chicken and mouse embryos, PAPC expression is tightly regulated by the clock and wavefront system in the posterior PSM. We observed that PAPC exhibits a striking complementary pattern to N-cadherin (CDH2), marking the interface of the future somite boundary in the anterior PSM. Gain and loss of function of PAPC in chicken embryos disrupted somite segmentation by altering the CDH2-dependent epithelialization of PSM cells. Our data suggest that clathrin-mediated endocytosis is increased in PAPC-expressing cells, subsequently affecting CDH2 internalization in the anterior compartment of the future somite. This in turn generates a differential adhesion interface, allowing formation of the acellular fissure that defines the somite boundary. Thus, periodic expression of PAPC in the anterior PSM triggers rhythmic endocytosis of CDH2, allowing for segmental de-adhesion and individualization of somites.
Project description:This study describes a cross-species functional screen of mouse gastrula cDNA libraries for components of endoderm and mesoderm specification. Pools of 96 cDNAs from arrayed mouse gastrula cDNA libraries were transcribed into mRNA and injected into either the presumptive mesoderm or the ectoderm of one-cell Xenopus laevis embryos. Injected embryos were examined at gastrula stage by in situ hybridization with endoderm or mesoderm markers. Using this approach, we screened over 700 pools or approximately 60,000 cDNAs. We identified 17 unique cDNAs that function during mesoderm and/or endoderm specification and 16 that cause general morphology changes. Identified molecules fall into eight general functional groups as follows: cell cycle components (seven), transcription factors (four), extracellular secreted molecules (seven), transmembrane receptors (one), intracellular signaling components (five), microtubule components (two), metabolism molecules (three), and unknown (four). Several of the genes we identified would not have been predicted to be involved in endoderm or mesoderm specification, highlighting the usefulness of nonbiased screening approaches. This includes Otx2, which we show is a downstream target of Xsox17beta. The speed, low cost, and high efficiency of this cross-species screen makes it an ideal method for examining cDNAs from difficult-to-obtain sources. Therefore, this approach complements the current mouse molecular genetics systems and provides a powerful means for the genome-wide examination of mammalian gene function.
Project description:Somitogenesis and subsequent axial skeletal development is regulated by the interaction of pathways that determine the periodicity of somite formation, rostrocaudal somite polarity and segment identity. Here we use a hypomorphic mutant mouse line to demonstrate that Supt20 (Suppressor of Ty20) is required for development of the axial skeleton. Supt20 hypomorphs display fusions of the ribs and vertebrae at lower thoracic levels along with anterior homeotic transformation of L1 to T14. These defects are preceded by reduction of the rostral somite and posterior shifts in Hox gene expression. While cycling of Notch target genes in the posterior presomitic mesoderm (PSM) appeared normal, expression of Lfng was reduced. In the anterior PSM, Mesp2 expression levels and cycling were unaffected; yet, expression of downstream targets such as Lfng, Ripply2, Mesp1 and Dll3 in the prospective rostral somite was reduced accompanied by expansion of caudal somite markers such as EphrinB2 and Hes7. Supt20 interacts with the Gcn5-containing SAGA histone acetylation complex. Gcn5 hypomorphic mutant embryos show similar defects in axial skeletal development preceded by posterior shift of Hoxc8 and Hoxc9 gene expression. We demonstrate that Gcn5 and Supt20 hypomorphs show similar defects in rostral-caudal somite patterning potentially suggesting shared mechanisms.
Project description:The anterior endomesoderm of the early Xenopus gastrula is a part of Spemann's organizer and is important for head induction. Here we describe Xblimp1, which encodes a zinc finger transcriptional repressor expressed in the anterior endomesoderm. Xblimp1 represses trunk mesoderm and induces anterior endomesoderm in a cooperative manner with the pan-endodermal gene Mix.1. Furthermore, Xblimp1 can cooperate with the BMP inhibitor chordin to induce ectopic heads, while a dominant-negative Xblimp1 inhibits head formation. The head inducer cerberus is positively regulated by Xblimp1 and is able to rescue microcephalic embryos caused by dominant-negative Xblimp1. Our results indicate that Xblimp1 is required for anterior endomesodermal cell fate and head induction.
Project description:Xenopus myotome is formed by a first medial and lateral myogenesis directly arising from the presomitic mesoderm followed by a second myogenic wave emanating from the dermomyotome. Here, by a series of gain and loss of function experiments, we showed that Mef2d, a member of the Mef2 family of MADS-box transcription factors, appeared as an upstream regulator of lateral myogenesis, and as an inducer of dermomyotome formation at the beginning of neurulation. In the lateral presomitic cells, we showed that Mef2d transactivates Myod expression which is necessary for lateral myogenesis. In the most lateral cells of the presomitic mesoderm, we showed that Mef2d and Paraxis (Tcf15), a member of the Twist family of transcription factors, were co-localized and activate directly the expression of Meox2, which acts upstream of Pax3 expression during dermomyotome formation. Cell tracing experiments confirm that the most lateral Meox2 expressing cells of the presomitic mesoderm correspond to the dermomyotome progenitors since they give rise to the most dorsal cells of the somitic mesoderm. Thus, Xenopus Mef2d couples lateral myogenesis to dermomyotome formation before somite segmentation. These results together with our previous works reveal striking similarities between dermomyotome and tendon formation in Xenopus: both develop in association with myogenic cells and both involve a gene transactivation pathway where one member of the Mef2 family, Mef2d or Mef2c, cooperates with a bHLH protein of the Twist family, Paraxis or Scx (Scleraxis) respectively. We propose that these shared characteristics in Xenopus laevis reflect the existence of a vertebrate ancestral mechanism which has coupled the development of the myogenic cells to the formation of associated tissues during somite compartmentalization.
Project description:We screened for differentially expressed genes in the developing notochord using the Affymetrix microarray system in Xenopus laevis. At late gastrula, we dissected four regions from the embryo, anterior mesoderm, posterior mesoderm, notochord and presomitic mesoderm. Three types of comparison were carried out to generate a list of predominantly notochord expressed genes: (1) Posterior mesoderm vs. anterior mesoderm; notochord genes are expected to be increased since the notochord is located in the posterior mesoderm. (2) Posterior mesoderm vs. whole embryos; notochord genes are expected to be increased. (3) Notochord vs. somite. This comparison sub-divided the group of posterior mesodermal genes identified in (1) and (2). All tissues are dissected using tungsten needles. We first dissected dorsal tissue above the archenteron from late gastrula to early neurula. To loosen tissue, we treated the dissected dorsal explant in a 1% cysteine solution (pH 7.4) and removed the neuroectodermal layer. Anterior mesoderm was dissected corresponding to about the anterior one-third of the archenteron roof, and the rest was collected as posterior mesoderm. The posterior mesodermal explant was dissected into notochord and somites, following a clearly visible border between the two tissues. The accuracy of all dissection was confirmed by RT-PCR of marker genes.
Project description:Somitogenesis involves the segmentation of the paraxial mesoderm into units along the anteroposterior axis. Here we show a role for Eph and ephrin signaling in the patterning of presomitic mesoderm and formation of the somites. Ephrin-A-L1 and ephrin-B2 are expressed in an iterative manner in the developing somites and presomitic mesoderm, as is the Eph receptor EphA4. We have examined the role of these proteins by injection of RNA, encoding dominant negative forms of Eph receptors and ephrins. Interruption of Eph signaling leads to abnormal somite boundary formation and reduced or disturbed myoD expression in the myotome. Disruption of Eph family signaling delays the normal down-regulation of her1 and Delta D expression in the anterior presomitic mesoderm and disrupts myogenic differentiation. We suggest that Eph signaling has a key role in the translation of the patterning of presomitic mesoderm into somites.