Grainyhead-like 2 regulates neural tube closure and adhesion molecule expression during neural fold fusion.
ABSTRACT: Defects in closure of embryonic tissues such as the neural tube, body wall, face and eye lead to severe birth defects. Cell adhesion is hypothesized to contribute to closure of the neural tube and body wall; however, potential molecular regulators of this process have not been identified. Here we identify an ENU-induced mutation in mice that reveals a molecular pathway of embryonic closure. Line2F homozygous mutant embryos fail to close the neural tube, body wall, face, and optic fissure, and they also display defects in lung and heart development. Using a new technology of genomic sequence capture and high-throughput sequencing of a 2.5Mb region of the mouse genome, we discovered a mutation in the grainyhead-like 2 gene (Grhl2). Microarray analysis revealed Grhl2 affects the expression of a battery of genes involved in cell adhesion and E-cadherin protein is drastically reduced in tissues that require Grhl2 function. The tissue closure defects in Grhl2 mutants are similar to that of AP-2? null mutants and AP-2? has been shown to bind to the promoter of E-cadherin. Therefore, we tested for a possible interaction between these genes. However, we find that Grhl2 and AP-2? do not regulate each other's expression, E-cadherin expression is normal in AP-2? mutants during neural tube closure, and Grhl2;AP-2? trans-heterozygous embryos are morphologically normal. Taken together, our studies point to a complex regulation of neural tube fusion and highlight the importance of comparisons between these two models to understand more fully the molecular pathways of embryonic tissue closure.
Project description:Neural tube defects (NTDs), a common birth defect in humans, result from the failure of the embryonic neural tube (NT) to close properly. NT closure is a complex, poorly understood morphogenetic process influenced by genes and environment. The most effective environmental influence in decreasing the risk for NTDs is folic acid (FA) fortification and supplementation, and these findings led to the recommendation of periconceptual FA intake and mandatory fortification of the US grain supply in 1998. To explore the relationship between genetics and responsiveness to FA supplementation, we used five mouse NTDs models-Zic2, Shroom3, Frem2, Grhl2 (Grainyhead-like 2) and L3P (Line3P)-and a long-term generational FA supplementation scheme. Contrary to expectations, we find that three genetic mutants respond adversely to FA supplementation with increased incidence of NTDs in homozygous mutants, occurrence of NTDs in heterozygous embryos and embryonic lethality prior to NT closure. Because of these unexpected responses, we examined NTD risk after short-term FA supplementation. Our results indicate that, for the same genetic allele, NTD risk can depend on the length of FA exposure. Our data indicate that, depending on the gene mutation, FA supplementation may adversely influence embryonic development and NT closure.
Project description:Neural tube closure has been studied for many decades, across a range of vertebrates, as a paradigm of embryonic morphogenesis. Neurulation is of particular interest in view of the severe congenital malformations - 'neural tube defects' - that result when closure fails. The process of neural tube closure is complex and involves cellular events such as convergent extension, apical constriction and interkinetic nuclear migration, as well as precise molecular control via the non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity pathway, Shh/BMP signalling, and the transcription factors Grhl2/3, Pax3, Cdx2 and Zic2. More recently, biomechanical inputs into neural tube morphogenesis have also been identified. Here, we review these cellular, molecular and biomechanical mechanisms involved in neural tube closure, based on studies of various vertebrate species, focusing on the most recent advances in the field.
Project description:Cranial neural tube defects (NTDs) occur in mice carrying mutant alleles of many different genes, whereas isolated spinal NTDs (spina bifida) occur in fewer models, despite being common human birth defects. Spina bifida occurs at high frequency in the Axial defects (Axd) mouse mutant but the causative gene is not known. In the current study, the Axd mutation was mapped by linkage analysis. Within the critical genomic region, sequencing did not reveal a coding mutation whereas expression analysis demonstrated significant up-regulation of grainyhead-like 2 (Grhl2) in Axd mutant embryos. Expression of other candidate genes did not differ between genotypes. In order to test the hypothesis that over-expression of Grhl2 causes Axd NTDs, we performed a genetic cross to reduce Grhl2 function in Axd heterozygotes. Grhl2 loss of function mutant mice were generated and displayed both cranial and spinal NTDs. Compound heterozygotes carrying both loss (Grhl2 null) and putative gain of function (Axd) alleles exhibited normalization of spinal neural tube closure compared with Axd/+ littermates, which exhibit delayed closure. Grhl2 is expressed in the surface ectoderm and hindgut endoderm in the spinal region, overlapping with grainyhead-like 3 (Grhl3). Axd mutants display delayed eyelid closure, as reported in Grhl3 null embryos. Moreover, Axd mutant embryos exhibited increased ventral curvature of the spinal region and reduced proliferation in the hindgut, reminiscent of curly tail embryos, which carry a hypomorphic allele of Grhl3. Overall, our data suggest that defects in Axd mutant embryos result from over-expression of Grhl2.
Project description:Lack or excess expression of the surface ectoderm-expressed transcription factor Grainyhead-like2 (Grhl2), each prevent spinal neural tube closure. Here we investigate the causative mechanisms and find reciprocal dysregulation of epithelial genes, cell junction components and actomyosin properties in Grhl2 null and over-expressing embryos. Grhl2 null surface ectoderm shows a shift from epithelial to neuroepithelial identity (with ectopic expression of N-cadherin and Sox2), actomyosin disorganisation, cell shape changes and diminished resistance to neural fold recoil upon ablation of the closure point. In contrast, excessive abundance of Grhl2 generates a super-epithelial surface ectoderm, in which up-regulation of cell-cell junction proteins is associated with an actomyosin-dependent increase in local mechanical stress. This is compatible with apposition of the neural folds but not with progression of closure, unless myosin activity is inhibited. Overall, our findings suggest that Grhl2 plays a crucial role in regulating biomechanical properties of the surface ectoderm that are essential for spinal neurulation.
Project description:Genetic variations affecting neural tube closure along the head result in malformations of the face and brain. Neural tube defects (NTDs) are among the most common birth defects in humans. We previously reported a mouse mutant called tuft that arose spontaneously in our wild-type 3H1 colony. Adult tuft mice present midline craniofacial malformations with or without an anterior cephalocele. In addition, affected embryos presented neural tube closure defects resulting in insufficient closure of the anterior neuropore or exencephaly. Here, through whole-genome sequencing, we identified a nonsense mutation in the Tet1 gene, which encodes a methylcytosine dioxygenase (TET1), co-segregating with the tuft phenotype. This mutation resulted in premature termination that disrupts the catalytic domain that is involved in the demethylation of cytosine. We detected a significant loss of TET enzyme activity in the heads of tuft embryos that were homozygous for the mutation and had NTDs. RNA-Seq transcriptome analysis indicated that multiple gene pathways associated with neural tube closure were dysregulated in tuft embryo heads. Among them, the expressions of Cecr2, Epha7 and Grhl2 were significantly reduced in some embryos presenting neural tube closure defects, whereas one or more components of the non-canonical WNT signaling pathway mediating planar cell polarity and convergent extension were affected in others. We further show that the recombinant mutant TET1 protein was capable of entering the nucleus and affected the expression of endogenous Grhl2 in IMCD-3 (inner medullary collecting duct) cells. These results indicate that TET1 is an epigenetic determinant for regulating genes that are crucial to closure of the anterior neural tube and its mutation has implications to craniofacial development, as presented by the tuft mouse.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Nodals are secreted signaling proteins with many roles in vertebrate development. Here, we identify a new role for Nodal signaling in regulating closure of the rostral neural tube of zebrafish.<h4>Results</h4>We find that the neural tube in the presumptive forebrain fails to close in zebrafish Nodal signaling mutants. For instance, the cells that will give rise to the pineal organ fail to move from the lateral edges of the neural plate to the midline of the diencephalon. The open neural tube in Nodal signaling mutants may be due in part to reduced function of N-cadherin, a cell adhesion molecule expressed in the neural tube and required for neural tube closure. N-cadherin expression and localization to the membrane are reduced in fish that lack Nodal signaling. Further, N-cadherin mutants and morphants have a pineal phenotype similar to that of mutants with deficiencies in the Nodal pathway. Overexpression of an activated form of the TGFbeta Type I receptor Taram-A (Taram-A*) cell autonomously rescues mesendoderm formation in fish with a severe decrease in Nodal signaling. We find that overexpression of Taram-A* also corrects their open neural tube defect. This suggests that, as in mammals, the mesoderm and endoderm have an important role in regulating closure of the anterior neural tube of zebrafish.<h4>Conclusion</h4>This work helps establish a role for Nodal signals in neurulation, and suggests that defects in Nodal signaling could underlie human neural tube defects such as exencephaly, a fatal condition characterized by an open neural tube in the anterior brain.
Project description:Failure of embryonic neural tube closure results in the second most common class of birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs). While NTDs are likely the result of complex multigenic dysfunction, it is not known whether polymorphisms in epigenetic regulators may be risk factors for NTDs. Here we characterized Baf155(msp3) , a unique ENU-induced allele in mice. Homozygous Baf155(mps3) embryos exhibit highly penetrant exencephaly, allowing us to investigate the roles of an assembled, but malfunctional BAF chromatin remodeling complex in vivo at the time of neural tube closure. Evidence of defects in proliferation and apoptosis were found within the neural tube. RNA-Seq analysis revealed that surprisingly few genes showed altered expression in Baf155 mutant neural tissue, given the broad epigenetic role of the BAF complex, but included genes involved in neural development and cell survival. Moreover, gene expression changes between individual mutants were variable even though the NTD was consistently observed. This suggests that inconsistent gene regulation contributes to failed neural tube closure. These results shed light on the role of the BAF complex in the process of neural tube closure and highlight the importance of studying missense alleles to understand epigenetic regulation during critical phases of development.
Project description:Bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) was originally found by its osteoinductive ability, and recent genetic analyses have revealed that it plays critical roles during early embryogenesis, cardiogenesis, decidualization as well as skeletogenesis. In the course of evaluation of the conditional allele for Bmp2, we found that the presence of a neo cassette, a selection marker needed for gene targeting events in embryonic stem cells, in the 3' untranslated region of exon 3 of Bmp2, reduced the expression levels of Bmp2 both in embryonic and maternal mouse tissues. Some of the embryos that were genotyped as transheterozygous for the floxed allele with the neo cassette over the conventional null allele (fn/-) showed a lethal phenotype including defects in cephalic neural tube closure and ventral abdominal wall closure. The number of embryos exhibiting these abnormalities was increased when, due to different genotypes, expression levels of Bmp2 in maternal tissues were lower. These results suggest that the expression levels of Bmp2 in both embryonic and maternal tissues influence the normal neural tube closure and body wall closure with different thresholds.
Project description:Cleft lip and palate are common birth defects resulting from failure of the facial processes to fuse during development. The mammalian grainyhead-like (Grhl1-3) genes play key roles in a number of tissue fusion processes including neurulation, epidermal wound healing and eyelid fusion. One family member, Grhl2, is expressed in the epithelial lining of the first pharyngeal arch in mice at embryonic day (E)10.5, prompting analysis of the role of this factor in palatogenesis. Grhl2-null mice die at E11.5 with neural tube defects and a cleft face phenotype, precluding analysis of palatal fusion at a later stage of development. However, in the first pharyngeal arch of Grhl2-null embryos, dysregulation of transcription factors that drive epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurs. The aberrant expression of these genes is associated with a shift in RNA-splicing patterns that favours the generation of mesenchymal isoforms of numerous regulators. Driving the EMT perturbation is loss of expression of the EMT-suppressing transcription factors Ovol1 and Ovol2, which are direct GRHL2 targets. The expression of the miR-200 family of microRNAs, also GRHL2 targets, is similarly reduced, resulting in a 56-fold upregulation of Zeb1 expression, a major driver of mesenchymal cellular identity. The critical role of GRHL2 in mediating cleft palate in Zeb1-/- mice is evident, with rescue of both palatal and facial fusion seen in Grhl2-/-;Zeb1-/- embryos. These findings highlight the delicate balance between GRHL2/ZEB1 and epithelial/mesenchymal cellular identity that is essential for normal closure of the palate and face. Perturbation of this pathway may underlie cleft palate in some patients.
Project description:Neural tube closure is a critical feature of central nervous system morphogenesis during embryonic development. Failure of this process leads to neural tube defects, one of the most common forms of human congenital defects. Although molecular and genetic studies in model organisms have provided insights into the genes and proteins that are required for normal neural tube development, complications associated with live imaging of neural tube closure in mammals limit efficient morphological analyses. Here, we report the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for dynamic imaging and quantitative assessment of cranial neural tube closure in live mouse embryos in culture. Through time-lapse imaging, we captured two neural tube closure mechanisms in different cranial regions, zipper-like closure of the hindbrain region and button-like closure of the midbrain region. We also used OCT imaging for phenotypic characterization of a neural tube defect in a mouse mutant. These results suggest that the described approach is a useful tool for live dynamic analysis of normal neural tube closure and neural tube defects in the mouse model.