Dynamic CREB family activity drives segmentation and posterior polarity specification in mammalian somitogenesis.
ABSTRACT: 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 number of vertebrae is defined strictly for a given species and depends on the number of somites, which are the earliest metameric structures that form in development. Somites are formed by sequential segmentation. The periodicity of somite segmentation is orchestrated by the synchronous oscillation of gene expression in the presomitic mesoderm (PSM), termed the "somite segmentation clock," in which Notch signaling plays a crucial role. Here we show that the clock period is sensitive to Notch activity, which is fine-tuned by its feedback regulator, Notch-regulated ankyrin repeat protein (Nrarp), and that Nrarp is essential for forming the proper number and morphology of axial skeleton components. Null-mutant mice for Nrarp have fewer vertebrae and have defective morphologies. Notch activity is enhanced in the PSM of the Nrarp(-/-) embryo, where the ~2-h segmentation period is extended by 5 min, thereby forming fewer somites and their resultant vertebrae. Reduced Notch activity partially rescues the Nrarp(-/-) phenotype in the number of somites, but not in morphology. Therefore we propose that the period of the somite segmentation clock is sensitive to Notch activity and that Nrarp plays essential roles in the morphology of vertebrae and ribs.
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:Somitogenesis is often described using the clock-and-wavefront (CW) model, which does not explain how molecular signaling rearranges the pre-somitic mesoderm (PSM) cells into somites. Our scanning electron microscopy analysis of chicken embryos reveals a caudally-progressing epithelialization front in the dorsal PSM that precedes somite formation. Signs of apical constriction and tissue segmentation appear in this layer 3-4 somite lengths caudal to the last-formed somite. We propose a mechanical instability model in which a steady increase of apical contractility leads to periodic failure of adhesion junctions within the dorsal PSM and positions the future inter-somite boundaries. This model produces spatially periodic segments whose size depends on the speed of the activation front of contraction (<i>F</i>), and the buildup rate of contractility (Λ). The Λ/<i>F</i> ratio determines whether this mechanism produces spatially and temporally regular or irregular segments, and whether segment size increases with the front speed.
Project description:During somitogenesis, Fgf8 maintains the predifferentiation stage of presomitic mesoderm (PSM) cells and its retraction gives a cue for somite formation. Delta/Notch initiates the expression of oscillation genes in the tail bud and subsequently contributes to somite formation in a periodic way. Whether there exists a critical factor coordinating Fgf8 and Notch signaling pathways is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the loss of function of geminin gave rise to narrower somites as a result of derepressed Fgf8 gradient in the PSM and tail bud. Furthermore, in geminin morphants, the somite boundary could not form properly but the oscillation of cyclic genes was normal, displaying the blurry somitic boundary and disturbed somite polarity along the AP axis. In mechanism, these manifestations were mediated by the disrupted association of the geminin/Brg1 complex with intron 3 of mib1. The latter interaction was found to positively regulate mib1 transcription, Notch activity, and sequential somite segmentation during somitogenesis. In addition, geminin was also shown to regulate the expression of deltaD in mib1-independent way. Collectively, our data for the first time demonstrate that geminin regulates Fgf8 and Notch signaling to regulate somite segmentation during somitogenesis.
Project description:One of the most striking features of the human vertebral column is its periodic organization along the anterior-posterior axis. This pattern is established when segments of vertebrates, called somites, bud off at a defined pace from the anterior tip of the embryo's presomitic mesoderm (PSM). To trigger this rhythmic production of somites, three major signaling pathways--Notch, Wnt/?-catenin, and fibroblast growth factor (FGF)--integrate into a molecular network that generates a traveling wave of gene expression along the embryonic axis, called the "segmentation clock." Recent systems approaches have begun identifying specific signaling circuits within the network that set the pace of the oscillations, synchronize gene expression cycles in neighboring cells, and contribute to the robustness and bilateral symmetry of somite formation. These findings establish a new model for vertebrate segmentation and provide a conceptual framework to explain human diseases of the spine, such as congenital scoliosis.
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:Somitogenesis is the segmentation of the developing embryonic body axis into somites and is guided by oscillating genes, which create waves of expression that travel across the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) from posterior to anterior. Upon arrival of a wave at the PSM's anterior end, a new somite is formed. To identify genes that are expressed in a wave-like pattern we dissected the PSM of four different mouse embryos (pre-turned), separated the left and right sides, and divided each into five segments, from posterior to anterior (sampling sites 1 to 5). Each segment was used to construct libraries for high-throughput RNA-sequencing. For one embryo, we also sequenced two somites.
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:Somites form by an iterative process from unsegmented, presomitic mesoderm (PSM). Notch pathway components, such as deltaC (dlc) have been shown to play a role in this process, while the T-box transcription factors Ntla and Tbx16 regulate somite formation upstream of this by controlling supply and movement of cells into the PSM during gastrulation and tailbud outgrowth. In this work, we report that Ntla and Tbx16 play a more explicit role in segmentation by directly regulating dlc expression. In addition we describe a cis-regulatory module (CRM) upstream of dlc that drives expression of a reporter in the tailbud, PSM and somites during somitogenesis. This CRM is bound by both Ntla and Tbx16 at a cluster of T-box binding sites, which are required in combination for activation of the CRM.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>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.<h4>Results</h4>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.<h4>Conclusions</h4>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.