Anterior visceral endoderm directs ventral morphogenesis and placement of head and heart via BMP2 expression.
ABSTRACT: In amniotes, ventral folding morphogenesis achieves gut internalization, linear heart tube formation, ventral body wall closure, and encasement of the fetus in extraembryonic membranes. Impairment of ventral morphogenesis results in human birth defects involving body wall, gut, and heart malformations and in mouse misplacement of head and heart. Absence of knowledge about genetic pathways and cell populations directing ventral folding in mammals has precluded systematic study of cellular mechanisms driving this vital morphogenetic process. We report tissue-specific mouse mutant analyses identifying the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway as a key regulator of ventral morphogenesis. BMP2 expressed in anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) signals to epiblast derivatives during gastrulation to orchestrate initial stages of ventral morphogenesis, including foregut development and positioning of head and heart. These findings identify unanticipated functions for the AVE in organizing the gastrulating embryo and indicate that visceral endoderm-expressed BMP2 coordinates morphogenetic cell behaviors in multiple epiblast lineages.
Project description:During development, the growth of the embryo must be coupled to its patterning to ensure correct and timely morphogenesis. In the mouse embryo, migration of the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) to the prospective anterior establishes the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis. By analysing the distribution of cells in S phase, M phase and G2 from the time just prior to the migration of the AVE until 18 hours after its movement, we show that there is no evidence for differential proliferation along the A-P axis of the mouse embryo. Rather, we have identified that as AVE movements are being initiated, the epiblast proliferates at a much higher rate than the visceral endoderm. We show that these high levels of proliferation in the epiblast are dependent on Nodal signalling and are required for A-P establishment, as blocking cell division in the epiblast inhibits AVE migration. Interestingly, inhibition of migration by blocking proliferation can be rescued by Dkk1. This suggests that the high levels of epiblast proliferation function to move the prospective AVE away from signals that are inhibitory to its migration. The finding that initiation of AVE movements requires a certain level of proliferation in the epiblast provides a mechanism whereby A-P axis development is coordinated with embryonic growth.
Project description:Pten, the potent tumor suppressor, is a lipid phosphatase that is best known as a regulator of cell proliferation and cell survival. Here we show that mouse embryos that lack Pten have a striking set of morphogenetic defects, including the failure to correctly specify the anterior-posterior body axis, that are not caused by changes in proliferation or cell death. The majority of Pten null embryos express markers of the primitive streak at ectopic locations around the embryonic circumference, rather than at a single site at the posterior of the embryo. Epiblast-specific deletion shows that Pten is not required in the cells of the primitive streak; instead, Pten is required for normal migration of cells of the Anterior Visceral Endoderm (AVE), an extraembryonic organizer that controls the position of the streak. Cells of the wild-type AVE migrate within the visceral endoderm epithelium from the distal tip of the embryo to a position adjacent to the extraembryonic region. In all Pten null mutants, AVE cells move a reduced distance and disperse in random directions, instead of moving as a coordinated group to the anterior of the embryo. Aberrant AVE migration is associated with the formation of ectopic F-actin foci, which indicates that absence of Pten disrupts the actin-based migration of these cells. After the initiation of gastrulation, embryos that lack Pten in the epiblast show defects in the migration of mesoderm and/or endoderm. The findings suggest that Pten has an essential and general role in the control of mammalian collective cell migration.
Project description:Anterior-posterior axis specification in the mouse requires signalling from a specialised extra-embryonic tissue called the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE). AVE precursors are induced at the distal tip of the embryo and move to the prospective anterior. Embryological and genetic analysis has demonstrated that the AVE is required for anterior patterning and for correctly positioning the site of primitive streak formation by inhibiting Nodal activity. We have carried out a genetic ablation of the Hex-expressing cells of the AVE (Hex-AVE) by knocking the Diphtheria toxin subunit A into the Hex locus in an inducible manner. Using this model we have identified that, in addition to its requirement in the anterior of the embryo, the Hex-AVE sub-population has a novel role between 5.5 and 6.5dpc in patterning the primitive streak. Embryos lacking the Hex-AVE display delayed initiation of primitive streak formation and miss-patterning of the anterior primitive streak. We demonstrate that in the absence of the Hex-AVE the restriction of Bmp2 expression to the proximal visceral endoderm is also defective and expression of Wnt3 and Nodal is not correctly restricted to the posterior epiblast. These results, coupled with the observation that reducing Nodal signalling in Hex-AVE ablated embryos increases the frequency of phenotypes observed, suggests that these primitive streak patterning defects are due to defective Nodal signalling. Together, our experiments demonstrate that the AVE is not only required for anterior patterning, but also that specific sub-populations of this tissue are required to pattern the posterior of the embryo.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Reciprocal interactions between two extra-embryonic tissues, the extra-embryonic ectoderm and the visceral endoderm, and the pluripotent epiblast, are required for the establishment of anterior-posterior polarity in the mouse. After implantation, two visceral endoderm cell types can be distinguished, in the embryonic and extra-embryonic regions of the egg cylinder. In the embryonic region, the specification of the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) is central to the process of anterior-posterior patterning. Despite recent advances in our understanding of the molecular interactions underlying the differentiation of the visceral endoderm, little is known about how cells colonise the three regions of the tissue.<h4>Results</h4>As a first step, we performed morphological observations to understand how the extra-embryonic region of the egg cylinder forms from the blastocyst. Our analysis suggests a new model for the formation of this region involving cell rearrangements such as folding of the extra-embryonic ectoderm at the early egg cylinder stage. To trace visceral endoderm cells, we microinjected mRNAs encoding fluorescent proteins into single surface cells of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and analysed the distribution of labelled cells at E5.0, E5.5 and E6.5. We found that at E5.0 the embryonic and extra-embryonic regions of the visceral endoderm do not correspond to distinct cellular compartments. Clusters of labelled cells may span the junction between the two regions even after the appearance of histological and molecular differences at E5.5. We show that in the embryonic region cell dispersion increases after the migration of the AVE. At this time, visceral endoderm cell clusters tend to become oriented parallel to the junction between the embryonic and extra-embryonic regions. Finally we investigated the origin of the AVE and demonstrated that this anterior signalling centre arises from more than a single precursor between E3.5 and E5.5.<h4>Conclusion</h4>We propose a new model for the formation of the extra-embryonic region of the egg cylinder involving a folding of the extra-embryonic ectoderm. Our analyses of the pattern of labelled visceral endoderm cells indicate that distinct cell behaviour in the embryonic and extra-embryonic regions is most apparent upon AVE migration. We also demonstrate the polyclonal origin of the AVE. Taken together, these studies lead to further insights into the formation of the extra-embryonic tissues as they first develop after implantation.
Project description:Here, we report a novel mechanism regulating migration of the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) by BMP signaling through BMPRIA. In Bmpr1a-deficient (Bmpr-null) embryos, the AVE does not migrate at all. In embryos with an epiblast-specific deletion of Bmpr1a (Bmpr1a(null/flox); Sox2Cre embryos), the AVE cells migrate randomly from the distal end of embryos, resulting in an expansion of the AVE. Dkk1, which is normally expressed in the anterior proximal visceral endoderm (PxVE), is downregulated in Bmpr-null embryos, whereas it is circumferentially expressed in Bmpr1a(null/flox); Sox2Cre embryos at E5.75-6.5. These results demonstrate an association of the position of Dkk1 expressing cells with direction of the migration of AVE. In Bmpr1a(null/flox); Sox2Cre embryos, a drastic decrease of WNT signaling is observed at E6.0. Addition of WNT3A to the culture of Bmpr1a(null/flox); Sox2Cre embryos at E5.5 restores expression patterns of Dkk1 and Cer1. These data indicate that BMP signaling in the epiblast induces Wnt3 and Wnt3a expression to maintain WNT signaling in the VE, resulting in downregulation of Dkk1 to establish the anterior expression domain. Thus, our results suggest that BMP signaling regulates the expression patterns of Dkk1 for anterior migration of the AVE.
Project description:The cell movements underlying the morphogenesis of the embryonic endoderm, the tissue that will give rise to the respiratory and digestive tracts, are complex and not well understood. Using live imaging combined with genetic labeling, we investigated the cell behaviors and fate of the visceral endoderm during gut endoderm formation in the mouse gastrula. Contrary to the prevailing view, our data reveal no mass displacement of visceral endoderm to extraembryonic regions concomitant with the emergence of epiblast-derived definitive endoderm. Instead, we observed dispersal of the visceral endoderm epithelium and extensive mixing between cells of visceral endoderm and epiblast origin. Visceral endoderm cells remained associated with the epiblast and were incorporated into the early gut tube. Our findings suggest that the segregation of extraembryonic and embryonic tissues within the mammalian embryo is not as strict as believed and that a lineage previously defined as exclusively extraembryonic contributes cells to the embryo.
Project description:The anterior visceral endoderm (AVE), a signalling centre within the simple epithelium of the visceral endoderm (VE), is required for anterior-posterior axis specification in the mouse embryo. AVE cells migrate directionally within the VE, thereby properly positioning the future anterior of the embryo and orientating the primary body axis. AVE cells consistently come to an abrupt stop at the border between the anterior epiblast and extra-embryonic ectoderm, which represents an end-point to their proximal migration. Little is known about the underlying basis for this barrier and how surrounding cells in the VE respond to or influence AVE migration. We use high-resolution 3D reconstructions of protein localisation patterns and time-lapse microscopy to show that AVE cells move by exchanging neighbours within an intact epithelium. Cell movement and mixing is restricted to the VE overlying the epiblast, characterised by the enrichment of Dishevelled-2 (Dvl2) to the lateral plasma membrane, a hallmark of Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) signalling. AVE cells halt upon reaching the adjoining region of VE overlying the extra-embryonic ectoderm, which displays reduced neighbour exchange and in which Dvl2 is excluded specifically from the plasma membrane. Though a single continuous sheet, these two regions of VE show distinct patterns of F-actin localisation, in cortical rings and an apical shroud, respectively. We genetically perturb PCP signalling and show that this disrupts the localisation pattern of Dvl2 and F-actin and the normal migration of AVE cells. In Nodal null embryos, membrane localisation of Dvl2 is reduced, while in mutants for the Nodal inhibitor Lefty1, Dvl2 is ectopically membrane localised, establishing a role for Nodal in modulating PCP signalling. These results show that the limits of AVE migration are determined by regional differences in cell behaviour and protein localisation within an otherwise apparently uniform VE. In addition to coordinating global cell movements across epithelia (such as during convergence extension), PCP signalling in interplay with TGF? signalling can demarcate regions of differing behaviour within epithelia, thereby modulating the movement of cells within them.
Project description:GATA-6 is a zinc-finger transcription factor essential for early embryogenesis. Ablation of GATA-6 in mice impairs endoderm differentiation and causes apoptosis of epiblast cells. The endoderm defects have been attributed to the loss of HNF4, disabled-2, and GATA-4. However, the mechanisms underlying epiblast apoptosis are unclear. In this study we used mouse embryonic stem cell-derived embryoid bodies (EBs) as a model for peri-implantation development and found that ablation of GATA-6 causes massive apoptosis during EB differentiation. Endoderm grafting experiments and ectopic basement membrane (BM) assembly suggest that both BM and non-BM factors contribute to cell survival. Furthermore, the increased cell death in mutant EBs is accompanied by reduced expression of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2). Chromatin immunoprecipitation reveals direct binding of GATA-6 to the Bmp2 promoter. Treatment of the mutant EBs with BMP-2 markedly suppresses apoptosis, whereas stable overexpression of the BMP antagonist noggin or a dominant-negative BMP receptor in normal EBs leads to increased apoptosis. Last, activation of SMAD1/5 by phosphorylation is significantly inhibited in the absence of GATA-6, and this is reversed by exogenous BMP-2. Treatment of normal EBs with SMAD phosphorylation inhibitor increases apoptosis. Collectively these results suggest that GATA-6 promotes cell survival by regulating endoderm expression of BMP-2 and BM during embryonic epithelial morphogenesis.
Project description:Gastrulation leads to three germ layers--ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm--that are separated by two basement membranes. In the mouse embryo, the emergent gut endoderm results from the widespread intercalation of cells of two distinct origins: pluripotent epiblast-derived definitive endoderm (DE) and extra-embryonic visceral endoderm (VE). Here we image the trajectory of prospective DE cells before intercalating into the VE epithelium. We show that the transcription factor SOX17, which is activated in prospective DE cells before intercalation, is necessary for gut endoderm morphogenesis and the assembly of the basement membrane that separates gut endoderm from mesoderm. Our results mechanistically link gut endoderm morphogenesis and germ layer segregation, two central and conserved features of gastrulation.
Project description:Initial specification of cardiomyocytes in the mouse results from interactions between the extraembryonic anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) and the nascent mesoderm. However the mechanism by which AVE activates cardiogenesis is not well understood, and the identity of specific cardiogenic factors in the endoderm remains elusive. Most mammalian studies of the cardiogenic potential of the endoderm have relied on the use of cell lines that are similar to the heart-inducing AVE. These include the embryonal-carcinoma-derived cell lines, END2 and PYS2. The recent development of protocols to isolate eXtraembryonic ENdoderm (XEN) stem cells, representing the extraembryonic endoderm lineage, from blastocyst stage mouse embryos offers new tools for the genetic dissection of cardiogenesis.Here, we demonstrate that XEN cell-conditioned media (CM) enhances cardiogenesis during Embryoid Body (EB) differentiation of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells in a manner comparable to PYS2-CM and END2-CM. Addition of CM from each of these three cell lines enhanced the percentage of EBs that formed beating areas, but ultimately, only XEN-CM and PYS2-CM increased the total number of cardiomyocytes that formed. Furthermore, our observations revealed that both contact-independent and contact-dependent factors are required to mediate the full cardiogenic potential of the endoderm. Finally, we used gene array comparison to identify factors in these cell lines that could mediate their cardiogenic potential.These studies represent the first step in the use of XEN cells as a molecular genetic tool to study cardiomyocyte differentiation. Not only are XEN cells functionally similar to the heart-inducing AVE, but also can be used for the genetic dissection of the cardiogenic potential of AVE, since they can be isolated from both wild type and mutant blastocysts. These studies further demonstrate the importance of both contact-dependent and contact-independent factors in cardiogenesis and identify potential heart-inducing proteins in the endoderm.