Cooperative function of deltaC and her7 in anterior segment formation.
ABSTRACT: Segmentation of paraxial mesoderm in vertebrates is regulated by a genetic oscillator that manifests as a series of wavelike or cyclic gene expression domains in the embryo. In zebrafish, this oscillator involves members of the Delta/Notch intercellular signaling pathway, and its down-stream targets, the Her family of transcriptional repressors. Loss of function of any one of the genes of this system, such as her7, gives rise to segmentation defects in the posterior trunk and tail, concomitant with a disruption of cyclic expression domains, indicating that the oscillator is required for posterior segmentation. Control of segmentation in the anterior trunk, and its relationship to that of the posterior is, however, not yet well understood. A combined loss of the cyclic Her genes her1 and her7 disrupts segmentation of both anterior and posterior paraxial mesoderm, indicating that her genes function redundantly in anterior segmentation. To test whether this anterior redundancy is specific to the her gene family, or alternatively is a more global feature of the segmentation oscillator, we looked at anterior segmentation after morpholino knock down of the cyclic cell-surface Notch ligand deltaC (dlc), either alone or in combination with her7, or other Delta/Notch pathway genes. We find that dlc is required for coherence of wavelike expression domains of cyclic genes her1 and her7 and maintenance of their expression levels, as well as for cyclic transcription of dlc itself, confirming that dlc is a component of the segmentation oscillator. Dose dependent, posteriorly-restricted segmentation defects were seen in the dlc knock down, and in combination with the deltaD or notch1a mutants. However, combined reduction of function of dlc and her7 results in defective segmentation of both anterior and posterior paraxial mesoderm, and a failure of cyclic expression domains to initiate, similar to loss of both her genes. Thus, anterior segmentation requires the functions of both her and delta family members in a parallel manner, suggesting that the segmentation oscillator operates in paraxial mesoderm along the entire vertebrate axis.
Project description:Somite segmentation depends on a gene expression oscillator or clock in the posterior presomitic mesoderm (PSM) and on read-out machinery in the anterior PSM to convert the pattern of clock phases into a somite pattern. Notch pathway mutations disrupt somitogenesis, and previous studies have suggested that Notch signalling is required both for the oscillations and for the read-out mechanism. By blocking or overactivating the Notch pathway abruptly at different times, we show that Notch signalling has no essential function in the anterior PSM and is required only in the posterior PSM, where it keeps the oscillations of neighbouring cells synchronized. Using a GFP reporter for the oscillator gene her1, we measure the influence of Notch signalling on her1 expression and show by mathematical modelling that this is sufficient for synchronization. Our model, in which intracellular oscillations are generated by delayed autoinhibition of her1 and her7 and synchronized by Notch signalling, explains the observations fully, showing that there are no grounds to invoke any additional role for the Notch pathway in the patterning of somite boundaries in zebrafish.
Project description:Somitogenesis is the earliest sign of segmentation in the developing vertebrate embryo. This process starts very early, soon after gastrulation has initiated and proceeds in an anterior-to-posterior direction during body axis elongation. It is widely accepted that somitogenesis is controlled by a molecular oscillator with the same periodicity as somite formation. This periodic mechanism is repeated a specific number of times until the embryo acquires a defined specie-specific final number of somites at the end of the process of axis elongation. This final number of somites varies widely between vertebrate species. How termination of the process of somitogenesis is determined is still unknown.Here we show that during development there is an imbalance between the speed of somite formation and growth of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM)/tail bud. This decrease in the PSM size of the chick embryo is not due to an acceleration of the speed of somite formation because it remains constant until the last stages of somitogenesis, when it slows down. When the chick embryo reaches its final number of somites at stage HH 24-25 there is still some remaining unsegmented PSM in which expression of components of the somitogenesis oscillator is no longer dynamic. Finally, we identify a change in expression of retinoic acid regulating factors in the tail bud at late stages of somitogenesis, such that in the chick embryo there is a pronounced onset of Raldh2 expression while in the mouse embryo the expression of the RA inhibitor Cyp26A1 is downregulated.Our results show that the chick somitogenesis oscillator is arrested before all paraxial mesoderm is segmented into somites. In addition, endogenous retinoic acid is probably also involved in the termination of the process of segmentation, and in tail growth in general.
Project description:The segmented body plan of vertebrates is prefigured by reiterated embryonic mesodermal structures called somites. In the mouse embryo, timely somite formation from the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) is controlled by the "segmentation clock," a molecular oscillator that triggers progressive waves of Notch activity throughout the PSM. Notch clock activity is suppressed in the posterior PSM by FGF signaling until it crosses a determination front at which its net activity is sufficiently high to effect segmentation. Here, Notch and Wnt signaling directs somite anterior/posterior (A/P) polarity specification and boundary formation via regulation of the segmentation effector gene Mesoderm posterior 2. How Notch and Wnt signaling becomes coordinated at this front is incompletely defined. Here we show that the activity of the cAMP responsive element binding protein (CREB) family of transcription factors exhibits Wnt3a-dependent oscillatory behavior near the determination front and is in unison with Notch activity. Inhibition of CREB family in the mesoderm causes defects in somite segmentation and a loss in somite posterior polarity leading to fusions of vertebrae and ribs. Among the CREB family downstream genes, several are known to be regulated by Wnt3a. Of those, we show that the CREB family occupies a conserved binding site in the promoter region of Delta-like 1, encoding a Notch ligand, in the anterior PSM as a mechanism to specify posterior identity of somites. Together, these data support that the CREB family acts at the determination front to modulate Wnt signaling and strengthen Notch signaling as a means to orchestrate cells for somite segmentation and anterior/posterior patterning.
Project description:The formation of reiterated somites along the vertebrate body axis is controlled by the segmentation clock, a molecular oscillator expressed within presomitic mesoderm (PSM) cells. Although PSM cells oscillate autonomously, they coordinate with neighboring cells to generate a sweeping wave of cyclic gene expression through the PSM that has a periodicity equal to that of somite formation. The velocity of each wave slows as it moves anteriorly through the PSM, although the dynamics of clock slowing have not been well characterized. Here, we investigate segmentation clock dynamics in the anterior PSM in developing zebrafish embryos using an in vivo clock reporter, her1:her1-venus. The her1:her1-venus reporter has single-cell resolution, allowing us to follow segmentation clock oscillations in individual cells in real-time. By retrospectively tracking oscillations of future somite boundary cells, we find that clock reporter signal increases in anterior PSM cells and that the periodicity of reporter oscillations slows to about ?1.5 times the periodicity in posterior PSM cells. This gradual slowing of the clock in the anterior PSM creates peaks of clock expression that are separated at a two-segment periodicity both spatially and temporally, a phenomenon we observe in single cells and in tissue-wide analyses. These results differ from previous predictions that clock oscillations stop or are stabilized in the anterior PSM. Instead, PSM cells oscillate until they incorporate into somites. Our findings suggest that the segmentation clock may signal somite formation using a phase gradient with a two-somite periodicity.
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:Somites in vertebrates are periodic segmented structures that give rise to the vertebrae and muscles of body. Somites are generated from presomitic mesoderm (PSM), but it is not fully understood how cellular differentiation and segment formation are achieved in the anterior PSM. We report here that zebrafish gadd45beta1 and gadd45beta2 genes are periodically expressed as paired stripes adjacent to the neural tube in the anterior PSM region where presomitic cells mature. In mammals, it is known that GADD45 (growth arrest and DNA damage) family proteins play a role in cell-cycle control. We found that both knockdown and overexpression of gadd45beta genes caused somite defects with different consequences for marker gene expression. Knockdown of gadd45beta genes with antisense morpholino oligonucleotides caused a broad expansion of mesp-a in the PSM, and both cyclic expression of her1 and segmented expression of MyoD were disorganized. On the other hand, injection of gadd45beta1 or gadd45beta2 suppressed expression of mesp-a and her1 in anterior PSM and MyoD in paraxial mesoderm. These results indicate that regulated expression of gadd45beta genes in the anterior PSM is required for somite segmentation.
Project description:FGF signaling is one of the few cell-cell signaling pathways conserved among all metazoans. The diversity of FGF gene content among different phyla suggests that evolution of FGF signaling may have participated in generating the current variety of animal forms. Vertebrates possess the greatest number of FGF genes, the functional evolution of which may have been implicated in the acquisition of vertebrate-specific morphological traits. In this study, we have investigated the roles of the FGF signal during embryogenesis of the cephalochordate amphioxus, the best proxy for the chordate ancestor. We first isolate the full FGF gene complement and determine the evolutionary relationships between amphioxus and vertebrate FGFs via phylogenetic and synteny conservation analysis. Using pharmacological treatments, we inhibit the FGF signaling pathway in amphioxus embryos in different time windows. Our results show that the requirement for FGF signaling during gastrulation is a conserved character among chordates, whereas this signal is not necessary for neural induction in amphioxus, in contrast to what is known in vertebrates. We also show that FGF signal, acting through the MAPK pathway, is necessary for the formation of the most anterior somites in amphioxus, whereas more posterior somite formation is not FGF-dependent. This result leads us to propose that modification of the FGF signal function in the anterior paraxial mesoderm in an amphioxus-like vertebrate ancestor might have contributed to the loss of segmentation in the preotic paraxial mesoderm of the vertebrate head.
Project description:Segmentation of the axial skeleton in amniotes depends on the segmentation clock, which patterns the paraxial mesoderm and the sclerotome. While the segmentation clock clearly operates in teleosts, the role of the sclerotome in establishing the axial skeleton is unclear. We severely disrupt zebrafish paraxial segmentation, yet observe a largely normal segmentation process of the chordacentra. We demonstrate that axial entpd5+ notochord sheath cells are responsible for chordacentrum mineralization, and serve as a marker for axial segmentation. While autonomous within the notochord sheath, entpd5 expression and centrum formation show some plasticity and can respond to myotome pattern. These observations reveal for the first time the dynamics of notochord segmentation in a teleost, and are consistent with an autonomous patterning mechanism that is influenced, but not determined by adjacent paraxial mesoderm. This behavior is not consistent with a clock-type mechanism in the notochord.
Project description:During vertebrate embryonic development, the formation of axial structures is driven by a population of stem-like cells that reside in a region of the tailbud called the chordoneural hinge (CNH). We have compared the mouse CNH transcriptome with those of surrounding tissues and shown that the CNH and tailbud mesoderm are transcriptionally similar, and distinct from the presomitic mesoderm. Amongst CNH-enriched genes are several that are required for axial elongation, including Wnt3a, Cdx2, Brachyury/T and Fgf8, and androgen/oestrogen receptor nuclear signalling components such as Greb1 We show that the pattern and duration of tailbud Greb1 expression is conserved in mouse, zebrafish and chicken embryos, and that Greb1 is required for axial elongation and somitogenesis in zebrafish embryos. The axial truncation phenotype of Greb1 morphant embryos can be explained by much reduced expression of No tail (Ntl/Brachyury), which is required for axial progenitor maintenance. Posterior segmentation defects in the morphants (including misexpression of genes such as mespb, myoD and papC) appear to result, in part, from lost expression of the segmentation clock gene, her7.
Project description:The oscillations of the somitogenesis clock are linked to the fundamental process of vertebrate embryo segmentation, yet little is known about their generation. In zebrafish, it has been proposed that Her proteins repress the transcription of their own mRNA. However, in its simplest form, this model is incompatible with the fact that morpholino knockdown of Her proteins can impair expression of their mRNA. Simple self-repression models also do not account for the spatiotemporal pattern of gene expression, with waves of gene expression shrinking as they propagate. Here we study computationally the networks generated by the wealth of dimerization possibilities amongst transcriptional repressors in the zebrafish somitogenesis clock. These networks can reproduce knockdown phenotypes, and strongly suggest the existence of a Her1-Her7 heterodimer, so far untested experimentally. The networks are the first reported to reproduce the spatiotemporal pattern of the zebrafish somitogenesis clock; they shed new light on the role of Her13.2, the only known link between the somitogenesis clock and positional information in the paraxial mesoderm. The networks can also account for perturbations of the clock by manipulation of FGF signaling. Achieving an understanding of the interplay between clock oscillations and positional information is a crucial first step in the investigation of the segmentation mechanism.