Nodal signaling regulates the bone morphogenic protein pluripotency pathway in mouse embryonic stem cells.
ABSTRACT: Members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily play essential roles in both the pluripotency and differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells. Although bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) maintain pluripotency of undifferentiated mouse ES cells, the role of autocrine Nodal signaling is less clear. Pharmacological, molecular, and genetic methods were used to further understand the roles and potential interactions of these pathways. Treatment of undifferentiated ES cells with SB431542, a pharmacological inhibitor of Smad2 signaling, resulted in a rapid reduction of phosphorylated Smad2 and altered the expression of several putative downstream targets. Unexpectedly, inhibition of the Nodal signaling pathway resulted in enhanced BMP signaling, as assessed by Smad1/5 phosphorylation. SB431542-treated cells also demonstrated significant induction of the Id genes, which are known direct targets of BMP signaling and important factors in ES cell pluripotency. Inhibition of BMP signaling decreased the SB431542-mediated phosphorylation of Smad1/5 and induction of Id genes, suggesting that BMP signaling is necessary for some Smad2-mediated activity. Because Smad7, a known inhibitory factor to both Nodal and BMP signaling, was down-regulated following inhibition of Nodal-Smad2 signaling, the contribution of Smad7 to the cross-talk between the transforming growth factor-beta pathways in ES cells was examined. Biochemical manipulation of Smad7 expression, through shRNA knockdown or inducible gene expression, significantly reduced the SB431542-mediated phosphorylation of Smad1/5 and induction of the Id genes. We conclude that autocrine Nodal signaling in undifferentiated mouse ES cells modulates the vital pluripotency pathway of BMP signaling.
Project description:Neural induction is widely believed to be a direct consequence of inhibition of BMP pathways. Because of conflicting results and interpretations, we have re-examined this issue in Xenopus and chick embryos using the powerful and general TGFbeta inhibitor, Smad7, which inhibits both Smad1- (BMP) and Smad2- (Nodal/Activin) mediated pathways. We confirm that Smad7 efficiently inhibits phosphorylation of Smad1 and Smad2. Surprisingly, however, over-expression of Smad7 in Xenopus ventral epidermis induces expression of the dorsal mesodermal markers Chordin and Brachyury. Neural markers are induced, but in a non-cell-autonomous manner and only when Chordin and Brachyury are also induced. Simultaneous inhibition of Smad1 and Smad2 by different approaches does not account for all Smad7 effects, indicating that Smad7 has activities other than inhibition of the TGFbeta pathway. We provide evidence that these effects are independent of Wnt, FGF, Hedgehog and retinoid signalling. We also show that these effects are due to elements outside of the MH2 domain of Smad7. Together, these results indicate that BMP inhibition is not sufficient for neural induction even when Nodal/Activin is also blocked, and that Smad7 activity is considerably more complex than had previously been assumed. We suggest that experiments relying on Smad7 as an inhibitor of TGFbeta-pathways should be interpreted with considerable caution.
Project description:Members of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β superfamily play essential roles in the pluripotency, self-renewal, and differentiation of embryonic stem cells. While bone morphogenic proteins maintain pluripotency of undifferentiated mouse ES cells, the role of Activin/Nodal signaling is less clear. To determine the target genes of Activin/Nodal-Smad2 signaling in undifferentiated embryonic stem cells, changes in gene expression were examined following stimulation with recombinant Activin (2 hours) or after inhibition of Activin/Nodal with SB431542 (24 hours) using defined media culture conditions with LIF and 20 ng/mL BMP4. SB431542 is a specific inhibitor of ALK4/5/7 receptors and antagonizes both Activin and Nodal signaling. Via western analysis, Activin stimulation increased pSmad2 in ES cells after 2 hours, and treatment with SB431542 for 24 hours virtually eliminated pSmad2. Total Smad2 expression remained unchanged through these manipulations. RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was extracted by standard methods with Qiagen RNeasy columns. The RNA was analyzed with the Mouse Genome 430A Array from Affymetrix. Samples were performed in duplicate, and RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was compared to untreated embryonic stem cells. Overall design: RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was extracted by standard methods with Qiagen RNeasy columns. The RNA was analyzed with the Mouse Genome 430A Array from Affymetrix. Samples were performed in duplicate, and RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was compared to untreated embryonic stem cells.
Project description:Members of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β superfamily play essential roles in the pluripotency, self-renewal, and differentiation of embryonic stem cells. While bone morphogenic proteins maintain pluripotency of undifferentiated mouse ES cells, the role of Activin/Nodal signaling is less clear. To determine the target genes of Activin/Nodal-Smad2 signaling in undifferentiated embryonic stem cells, changes in gene expression were examined following stimulation with recombinant Activin (2 hours) or after inhibition of Activin/Nodal with SB431542 (24 hours) using defined media culture conditions with LIF and 20 ng/mL BMP4. SB431542 is a specific inhibitor of ALK4/5/7 receptors and antagonizes both Activin and Nodal signaling. Via western analysis, Activin stimulation increased pSmad2 in ES cells after 2 hours, and treatment with SB431542 for 24 hours virtually eliminated pSmad2. Total Smad2 expression remained unchanged through these manipulations. RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was extracted by standard methods with Qiagen RNeasy columns. The RNA was analyzed with the Mouse Genome 430A Array from Affymetrix. Samples were performed in duplicate, and RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was compared to untreated embryonic stem cells. Experiment Overall Design: RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was extracted by standard methods with Qiagen RNeasy columns. The RNA was analyzed with the Mouse Genome 430A Array from Affymetrix. Samples were performed in duplicate, and RNA from cells treated with Activin or SB431542 was compared to untreated embryonic stem cells.
Project description:Embryonic stem cells dynamically fluctuate between phenotypic states, as defined by expression levels of genes such as Nanog, while remaining pluripotent. The dynamic phenotype of stem cells is in part determined by gene expression control and dictated by various signaling pathways and transcriptional regulators. We sought to define the activities of two TGF-?-related signaling pathways, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Nodal signaling, in modulating mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell heterogeneity in undifferentiated culture conditions. Both BMP and Nodal signaling pathways were seen to be active in distinct Nanog subpopulations, with subtle quantitative differences in activity. Pharmacological and genetic modulation of BMP or Nodal signaling strongly influenced the heterogeneous state of undifferentiated ES cells, as assessed by dynamic expression of Nanog reporters. Inhibition of Nodal signaling enhanced BMP activity, which through the downstream target Id factors, enhanced the capacity of ES cells to remain in the Nanog-high epigenetic state. The combined inhibition of Nodal and BMP signaling resulted in the accumulation of Nanog-negative cells, even in the presence of LIF, uncovering a shared role for BMP and Nodal signaling in maintaining Nanog expression and repression of differentiation. These results demonstrate a complex requirement for both arms of TGF-?-related signaling to influence the dynamic cellular phenotype of undifferentiated ES cells in serum-based media, and that differing subpopulations of ES cells in heterogeneous culture have distinct responses to these signaling pathways. Several pathways, including BMP, Nodal, and FGF signaling, have important regulatory function in defining the steady-state distribution of heterogeneity of stem cells.
Project description:Numerous groups have documented that Ascorbic Acid (AA) promotes cardiomyocyte differentiation from both mouse and human ESCs and iPSCs. AA is now considered indispensable for the routine production of hPSC-cardiomyocytes (CMs) using defined media; however, the mechanisms involved with the inductive process are poorly understood. Using a genetically modified mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) line containing a dsRED transgene driven by the cardiac-restricted portion of the ncx1 promoter, we show that AA promoted differentiation of mESCs to CMs in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Treatment of mPSCs with AA did not modulate total SMAD content; however, the phosphorylated/active forms of SMAD2 and SMAD1/5/8 were significantly elevated. Co-administration of the SMAD2/3 activator Activin A with AA had no significant effect, but the addition of the nodal co-receptor TDGF1 (Cripto) antagonized AA's cardiomyogenic-promoting ability. AA could also reverse some of the inhibitory effects on cardiomyogenesis of ALK/SMAD2 inhibition by SB431542, a TGF? pathway inhibitor. Treatment with BMP2 and AA strongly amplified the positive cardiomyogenic effects of SMAD1/5/8 in a dose-dependent manner. AA could not, however, rescue dorsomorphin-mediated inhibition of ALK/SMAD1 activity. Using an inducible model system, we found that SMAD1, but not SMAD2, was essential for AA to promote the formation of TNNT2+-CMs. These data firmly demonstrate that BMP receptor-activated SMADs, preferential to TGF? receptor-activated SMADs, are necessary to promote AA stimulated cardiomyogenesis. AA-enhanced cardiomyogenesis thus relies on the ability of AA to modulate the ratio of SMAD signaling among the TGF?-superfamily receptor signaling pathways.
Project description:Retina formation requires the correct spatiotemporal patterning of key regulatory factors. While it is known that repression of several signaling pathways lead to specification of retinal fates, addition of only Noggin, a known BMP antagonist, can convert pluripotent Xenopus laevis animal cap cells to functional retinal cells. The aim of this study is to determine the intracellular molecular events that occur during this conversion. Surprisingly, blocking BMP signaling alone failed to mimic Noggin treatment. Overexpressing Noggin in pluripotent cells resulted in a concentration-dependent suppression of both Smad1 and Smad2 phosphorylation, which act downstream of BMP and Activin signaling, respectively. This caused a decrease in downstream targets: endothelial marker, xk81, and mesodermal marker, xbra. We treated pluripotent cells with dominant-negative receptors or the chemical inhibitors, dorsomorphin and SB431542, which each target either the BMP or Activin signaling pathway. We determined the effect of these treatments on retina formation using the Animal Cap Transplant (ACT) assay; in which treated pluripotent cells were transplanted into the eye field of host embryos. We found that inhibition of Activin signaling, in the presence of BMP signaling inhibition, promotes efficient retinal specification in Xenopus tissue, mimicking the affect of adding Noggin alone. In whole embryos, we found that the eye field marker, rax, expanded when adding both dominant-negative Smad1 and Smad2, as did treating the cells with both dorsomorphin and SB431542. Future studies could translate these findings to a mammalian culture assay, in order to more efficiently produce retinal cells in culture.
Project description:Nodal and Activin are morphogens of the TGFbeta superfamily of signaling molecules that direct differential cell fate decisions in a dose- and distance-dependent manner. During early embryonic development the Nodal/Activin pathway is responsible for the specification of mesoderm, endoderm, node, and mesendoderm. In contradiction to this drive towards cellular differentiation, the pathway also plays important roles in the maintenance of self-renewal and pluripotency in embryonic and epiblast stem cells. The molecular basis behind stem cell interpretation of Nodal/Activin signaling gradients and the undertaking of disparate cell fate decisions remains poorly understood. Here, we show that any perturbation of endogenous signaling levels in mouse embryonic stem cells leads to their exit from self-renewal towards divergent differentiation programs. Increasing Nodal signals above basal levels by direct stimulation with Activin promotes differentiation towards the mesendodermal lineages while repression of signaling with the specific Nodal/Activin receptor inhibitor SB431542 induces trophectodermal differentiation. To address how quantitative Nodal/Activin signals are translated qualitatively into distinct cell fates decisions, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation of phospho-Smad2, the primary downstream transcriptional factor of the Nodal/Activin pathway, followed by massively parallel sequencing, and show that phospho-Smad2 binds to and regulates distinct subsets of target genes in a dose-dependent manner. Crucially, Nodal/Activin signaling directly controls the Oct4 master regulator of pluripotency by graded phospho-Smad2 binding in the promoter region. Hence stem cells interpret and carry out differential Nodal/Activin signaling instructions via a corresponding gradient of Smad2 phosphorylation that selectively titrates self-renewal against alternative differentiation programs by direct regulation of distinct target gene subsets and Oct4 expression.
Project description:BACKGROUND: To test if the expression of Smad1-8 mRNAs were predictive of survival in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). PATIENTS AND METHODS: We analyzed, prospectively, the expression of Smad1-8, by means of Ribonuclease Protection Assay in 48 primary, operable, oral SCC. In addition, 21 larynx, 10 oropharynx and 4 hypopharynx SCC and 65 matched adjacent mucosa, available for study, were also included. For survival analysis, patients were categorized as positive or negative for each Smad, according to median mRNA expression. We also performed real-time quantitative PCR (QRTPCR) to asses the pattern of TGFbeta1, TGFbeta2, TGFbeta3 in oral SCC. RESULTS: Our results showed that Smad2 and Smad6 mRNA expression were both associated with survival in Oral SCC patients. Cox Multivariate analysis revealed that Smad6 positivity and Smad2 negativity were both predictive of good prognosis for oral SCC patients, independent of lymph nodal status (P = 0.003 and P = 0.029, respectively). In addition, simultaneously Smad2- and Smad6+ oral SCC group of patients did not reach median overall survival (mOS) whereas the mOS of Smad2+/Smad6- subgroup was 11.6 months (P = 0.004, univariate analysis). Regarding to TGFbeta isoforms, we found that Smad2 mRNA and TGFbeta1 mRNA were inversely correlated (p = 0.05, R = -0.33), and that seven of the eight TGFbeta1+ patients were Smad2-. In larynx SCC, Smad7- patients did not reach mOS whereas mOS of Smad7+ patients were only 7.0 months (P = 0.04). No other correlations were found among Smad expression, clinico-pathological characteristics and survival in oral, larynx, hypopharynx, oropharynx or the entire head and neck SCC population. CONCLUSION: Smad6 together with Smad2 may be prognostic factors, independent of nodal status in oral SCC after curative resection. The underlying mechanism which involves aberrant TGFbeta signaling should be better clarified in the future.
Project description:More efficient therapies that target multiple molecular mechanisms are needed for the treatment of incurable bone metastases. Halofuginone is a plant alkaloid-derivative with antiangiogenic and antiproliferative effects. Here we demonstrate that halofuginone is an effective therapy for the treatment of bone metastases, through multiple actions that include inhibition of TGF? and BMP-signaling. Halofuginone blocked TGF-?-signaling in MDA-MB-231 and PC3 cells showed by inhibition of TGF-?-induced Smad-reporter, phosphorylation of Smad-proteins, and expression of TGF-?-regulated metastatic genes. Halofuginone increased inhibitory Smad7-mRNA and reduced TGF-?-receptor II protein. Proline supplementation but not Smad7-knockdown reversed halofuginone-inhibition of TGF-?-signaling. Halofuginone also decreased BMP-signaling. Treatment of MDA-MB-231 and PC3 cells with halofuginone reduced the BMP-Smad-reporter (BRE)4, Smad1/5/8-phosphorylation and mRNA of the BMP-regulated gene Id-1. Halofuginone decreased immunostaining of phospho-Smad2/3 and phospho-Smad1/5/8 in cancer cells in vivo. Furthermore, halofuginone decreased tumor-take and growth of orthotopic-tumors. Mice with breast or prostate bone metastases treated with halofuginone had significantly less osteolysis than control mice. Combined treatment with halofuginone and zoledronic-acid significantly reduced osteolytic area more than either treatment alone. Thus, halofuginone reduces breast and prostate cancer bone metastases in mice and combined with treatment currently approved by the FDA is an effective treatment for this devastating complication of breast and prostate-cancer.
Project description:The TGF-? superfamily comprises two distinct branches: the Activin/Nodal and BMP pathways. During development, signaling by this superfamily regulates a variety of embryological processes, and it has a conserved role in patterning the dorsal-ventral body axis. Recent studies show that BMP signaling establishes the dorsal-ventral axis in some mollusks. However, previous pharmacological inhibition studies in the annelid Capitella teleta, a sister clade to the mollusks, suggests that the dorsal-ventral axis is patterned via Activin/Nodal signaling. Here, we determine the role of both the Activin/Nodal and BMP pathways as they function in Capitella axis patterning. Antisense morpholino oligonucleotides were targeted to Ct-Smad2/3 and Ct-Smad1/5/8, transcription factors specific to the Activin/Nodal and BMP pathways, respectively. Following microinjection of zygotes, resulting morphant larvae were scored for axial anomalies. We demonstrate that the Activin/Nodal pathway of the TGF-? superfamily, but not the BMP pathway, is the primary dorsal-ventral patterning signal in Capitella These results demonstrate variation in the molecular control of axis patterning across spiralians, despite sharing a conserved cleavage program. We suggest that these findings represent an example of developmental system drift.