Pax6 is a human neuroectoderm cell fate determinant.
ABSTRACT: The transcriptional regulation of neuroectoderm (NE) specification is unknown. Here we show that Pax6 is uniformly expressed in early NE cells of human fetuses and those differentiated from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). This is in contrast to the later expression of Pax6 in restricted mouse brain regions. Knockdown of Pax6 blocks NE specification from hESCs. Overexpression of either Pax6a or Pax6b, but not Pax6triangle upPD, triggers hESC differentiation. However, only Pax6a converts hESCs to NE. In contrast, neither loss nor gain of function of Pax6 affects mouse NE specification. Both Pax6a and Pax6b bind to pluripotent gene promoters but only Pax6a binds to NE genes during human NE specification. These findings indicate that Pax6 is a transcriptional determinant of the human NE and suggest that Pax6a and Pax6b coordinate with each other in determining the transition from pluripotency to the NE fate in human by differentially targeting pluripotent and NE genes.
Project description:Several transcription factors (TFs) have been implicated in neuroectoderm (NE) development, and recently, the TF PAX6 was shown to be critical for human NE specification. However, microRNA networks regulating human NE development have been poorly documented. We hypothesized that microRNAs activated by PAX6 should promote NE development. Using a genomics approach, we identified PAX6 binding sites and active enhancers genome-wide in an in vitro model of human NE development that was based on neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESC). PAX6 binding to active enhancers was found in the proximity of several microRNAs, including hsa-miR-135b. MiR-135b was activated during NE development, and ectopic expression of miR-135b in hESC promoted differentiation toward NE. MiR-135b promotes neural conversion by targeting components of the TGF-? and BMP signaling pathways, thereby inhibiting differentiation into alternate developmental lineages. Our results demonstrate a novel TF-miRNA module that is activated during human neuroectoderm development and promotes the irreversible fate specification of human pluripotent cells toward the neural lineage.
Project description:Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling and PAX6 transcription are required for neuroectoderm specification of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). In this study, we asked how FGF signaling leads to PAX6 transcription and neuroectoderm specification from hESCs. Under a chemically defined medium, FGF inhibition blocked phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2) with a significant reduction of PAX6-expressing neuroepithelia, indicating that FGF regulates neural induction through ERK1/2 activation. Activation of FGF-ERK1/2 pathway was necessary for the activity of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), a conserved nuclear protein catalyzing polymerization of ADP-ribose units. Pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation of PARP-1 inhibited neural induction from hESCs, suggesting that FGF-ERK1/2 signal pathway regulates neuroectoderm specification through regulating PARP-1 activity. Furthermore, FGF-ERK1/2-PARP-1 cascade regulated the expression of PAX6, a transcription determinant of human neuroectoderm. Together, we propose that FGF regulates hESC neural specification through the ERK1/2-PARP-1 signaling pathway.
Project description:The TET family of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) dioxygenases plays critical roles in development by modifying DNA methylation. Using CRISPR, we inactivated the TET1 gene in H9 human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Mutant H9 hESCs remained pluripotent, even though the level of hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) decreased to 30% of that in wild-type cells. Neural differentiation induced by dual SMAD inhibitors was not significantly affected by loss of TET1 activity. However, in a morphogen-free condition, TET1 deficiency significantly reduced the generation of NESTIN+SOX1+ neuroectoderm cells from 70% in wild-type cells to 20% in mutant cells. This was accompanied by a 20-fold reduction in the expression level of PAX6 and a significant decrease in the amount of 5hmC on the PAX6 promoter. Overexpression of the TET1 catalytic domain in TET1-deficient hESCs significantly increased 5hmC levels and elevated PAX6 expression during differentiation. Consistent with these in vitro data, PAX6 expression was significantly decreased in teratomas formed by TET1-deficient hESCs. However, TET1 deficiency did not prevent the formation of neural tube-like structures in teratomas. Our results suggest that TET1 deficiency impairs the intrinsic ability of hESCs to differentiate to neuroectoderm, presumably by decreasing the expression of PAX6, a key regulator in the development of human neuroectoderm.
Project description:We reveal by high-throughput screening that activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1) is a novel pluripotent regulator in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The knockdown of ATF1 expression significantly up-regulated neuroectoderm (NE) genes but not mesoderm, endoderm, and trophectoderm genes. Of note, down-regulation or knockout of ATF1 with short hairpin RNA (shRNA), small interfering RNA (siRNA), or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) was sufficient to up-regulate sex-determining region Y-box (SOX)2 and paired box 6 (PAX6) expression under the undifferentiated or differentiated conditions, whereas overexpression of ATF1 suppressed NE differentiation. Endogenous ATF1 was spontaneously down-regulated after d 1-3 of neural induction. By double-knockdown experiments, up-regulation of SOX2 was critical for the increase of PAX6 and SOX1 expression in shRNA targeting Atf1 hESCs. Using the luciferase reporter assay, we identified ATF1 as a negative transcriptional regulator of Sox2 gene expression. A novel function of ATF1 was discovered, and these findings contribute to a broader understanding of the very first steps in regulating NE differentiation in hESCs.-Yang, S.-C., Liu, J.-J., Wang, C.-K., Lin, Y.-T., Tsai, S.-Y., Chen, W.-J., Huang, W.-K., Tu, P.-W. A., Lin, Y.-C., Chang, C.-F., Cheng, C.-L., Lin, H., Lai, C.-Y., Lin, C.-Y., Lee, Y.-H., Chiu, Y.-C., Hsu, C.-C., Hsu, S.-C., Hsiao, M., Schuyler, S. C., Lu, F. L., Lu, J. Down-regulation of ATF1 leads to early neuroectoderm differentiation of human embryonic stem cells by increasing the expression level of SOX2.
2019-01-01 | S-EPMC6704446 | BioStudies
Project description:PAX6 is essential for neural retina (NR) and forebrain development but how PAX6 instructs NR versus forebrain specification remains unknown. We found that the paired-less PAX6, PAX6D, is expressed in NR cells during human eye development and along human embryonic stem cell (hESC) specification to retinal cells. hESCs deficient for PAX6D failed to enter NR specification. Induced expression of PAX6D but not PAX6A in a PAX6-null background restored the NR specification capacity. ChIP-Seq, confirmed by functional assays, revealed a set of retinal genes and non-retinal neural genes that are potential targets of PAX6D, including WNT8B. Inhibition of WNTs or knocking down of WNT8B restored the NR specification capacity of neuroepithelia with PAX6D knockout whereas activation of WNTs blocked NR specification even when PAX6D was induced. Thus, PAX6D specifies neuroepithelia to NR cells via regulation of WNT8B.
Project description:The light-damaged zebrafish retina results in the death of photoreceptor cells and the subsequent regeneration of the missing rod and cone cells. Photoreceptor regeneration initiates with asymmetric Müller glial cell division to produce neuronal progenitor cells, which amplify, migrate to the outer nuclear layer (ONL), and differentiate into both classes of photoreceptor cells. In this study, we examined the role of the Pax6 protein in regeneration. In zebrafish, there are two Pax6 proteins, one encoded by the pax6a gene and the other encoded by the pax6b gene. We intravitreally injected and electroporated morpholinos that were complementary to either the pax6a or pax6b mRNA to knockdown the translation of the corresponding protein. Loss of Pax6b expression did not affect Müller glial cell division, but blocked the subsequent first cell division of the neuronal progenitors. In contrast, the paralogous Pax6a protein was required for later neuronal progenitor cell divisions, which maximized the number of neuronal progenitors. Without neuronal progenitor cell amplification, proliferation of resident ONL rod precursor cells, which can only regenerate rods, increased inversely proportional to the number of INL neuronal progenitor cells. This confirmed that Müller glial-derived neuronal progenitor cells are necessary to regenerate cones and that distinct mechanisms selectively regenerate rod and cone photoreceptors. This work also defines distinct roles for Pax6a and Pax6b in regulating neuronal progenitor cell proliferation in the adult zebrafish retina and increases our understanding of the molecular pathways required for photoreceptor cell regeneration.
Project description:PAX6 is a transcription factor playing a crucial role in the development of the eye and in the differentiation of the pancreatic endocrine cells as well as of enteroendocrine cells. Studies on the mouse Pax6 gene have shown that sequences upstream from the P0 promoter are required for expression in the lens and the pancreas; but there remain discrepancies regarding the precise location of the pancreatic regulatory elements.Due to genome duplication in the evolution of ray-finned fishes, zebrafish has two pax6 genes, pax6a and pax6b. While both zebrafish pax6 genes are expressed in the developing eye and nervous system, only pax6b is expressed in the endocrine cells of the pancreas. To investigate the cause of this differential expression, we used a combination of in silico, in vivo and in vitro approaches. We show that the pax6b P0 promoter targets expression to endocrine pancreatic cells and also to enteroendocrine cells, retinal neurons and the telencephalon of transgenic zebrafish. Deletion analyses indicate that strong pancreatic expression of the pax6b gene relies on the combined action of two conserved regulatory enhancers, called regions A and C. By means of gel shift assays, we detected binding of the homeoproteins PDX1, PBX and PREP to several cis-elements of these regions. In constrast, regions A and C of the zebrafish pax6a gene are not active in the pancreas, this difference being attributable to sequence divergences within two cis-elements binding the pancreatic homeoprotein PDX1.Our data indicate a conserved role of enhancers A and C in the pancreatic expression of pax6b and emphasize the importance of the homeoproteins PBX and PREP cooperating with PDX1, in activating pax6b expression in endocrine pancreatic cells. This study also provides a striking example of how adaptative evolution of gene regulatory sequences upon gene duplication progressively leads to subfunctionalization of the paralogous gene pair.
Project description:Under defined differentiation conditions human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be directed toward a mesendodermal (ME) or neuroectoderm (NE) fate, the first decision during hESC differentiation. Coupled with G1 lengthening a divergent ciliation pattern emerged within the first 24 hours of induced lineage specification and these changes heralded a neuroectoderm decision before any neural precursor markers were expressed. By day 2, increased ciliation in NE precursors induced autophagy that resulted in the inactivation of Nrf2. Nrf2 binds directly to upstream regions of the OCT4 and NANOG genes to promote their expression and represses NE derivation. Nrf2 suppression was sufficient to rescue poorly neurogenic iPSC lines. Only after these events have been initiated do neural precursor markers get expressed at day 4. Thus we have identified a primary cilium-autophagy-Nrf2 (PAN) axis coupled to cell cycle progression that directs hESCs toward NE. Transcriptome analysis of hESC-derived neuroectoderm and mesendoderm cells
Project description:Under defined differentiation conditions human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be directed toward a mesendodermal (ME) or neuroectoderm (NE) fate, the first decision during hESC differentiation. Coupled with G1 lengthening a divergent ciliation pattern emerged within the first 24 hours of induced lineage specification and these changes heralded a neuroectoderm decision before any neural precursor markers were expressed. By day 2, increased ciliation in NE precursors induced autophagy that resulted in the inactivation of Nrf2. Nrf2 binds directly to upstream regions of the OCT4 and NANOG genes to promote their expression and represses NE derivation. Nrf2 suppression was sufficient to rescue poorly neurogenic iPSC lines. Only after these events have been initiated do neural precursor markers get expressed at day 4. Thus we have identified a primary cilium-autophagy-Nrf2 (PAN) axis coupled to cell cycle progression that directs hESCs toward NE. Overall design: Transcriptome analysis of hESC-derived neuroectoderm and mesendoderm cells
Project description:Gene duplication is a major driver of evolutionary divergence. In most vertebrates a single PAX6 gene encodes a transcription factor required for eye, brain, olfactory system, and pancreas development. In zebrafish, following a postulated whole-genome duplication event in an ancestral teleost, duplicates pax6a and pax6b jointly fulfill these roles. Mapping of the homozygously viable eye mutant sunrise identified a homeodomain missense change in pax6b, leading to loss of target binding. The mild phenotype emphasizes role-sharing between the co-orthologues. Meticulous mapping of isolated BACs identified perturbed synteny relationships around the duplicates. This highlights the functional conservation of pax6 downstream (3') control sequences, which in most vertebrates reside within the introns of a ubiquitously expressed neighbour gene, ELP4, whose pax6a-linked exons have been lost in zebrafish. Reporter transgenic studies in both mouse and zebrafish, combined with analysis of vertebrate sequence conservation, reveal loss and retention of specific cis-regulatory elements, correlating strongly with the diverged expression of co-orthologues, and providing clear evidence for evolution by subfunctionalization.