Retinoic acid-independent expression of Meis2 during autopod patterning in the developing bat and mouse limb.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The bat has strikingly divergent forelimbs (long digits supporting wing membranes) and hindlimbs (short, typically free digits) due to the distinct requirements of both aerial and terrestrial locomotion. During embryonic development, the morphology of the bat forelimb deviates dramatically from the mouse and chick, offering an alternative paradigm for identifying genes that play an important role in limb patterning. RESULTS:Using transcriptome analysis of developing Natal long-fingered bat (Miniopterus natalensis) fore- and hindlimbs, we demonstrate that the transcription factor Meis2 has a significantly higher expression in bat forelimb autopods compared to hindlimbs. Validation by reverse transcriptase and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and whole mount in situ hybridisation shows that Meis2, conventionally known as a marker of the early proximal limb bud, is upregulated in the bat forelimb autopod from CS16. Meis2 expression is localised to the expanding interdigital webbing and the membranes linking the wing to the hindlimb and tail. In mice, Meis2 is also expressed in the interdigital region prior to tissue regression. This interdigital Meis2 expression is not activated by retinoic acid (RA) signalling as it is present in the retained interdigital tissue of Rdh10 (trex/trex) mice, which lack RA. Additionally, genes encoding RA-synthesising enzymes, Rdh10 and Aldh1a2, and the RA nuclear receptor Rar? are robustly expressed in bat fore- and hindlimb interdigital tissues indicating that the mechanism that retains interdigital tissue in bats also occurs independently of RA signalling. CONCLUSIONS:Mammalian interdigital Meis2 expression, and upregulation in the interdigital webbing of bat wings, suggests an important role for Meis2 in autopod development. Interdigital Meis2 expression is RA-independent, and retention of interdigital webbing in bat wings is not due to the suppression of RA-induced cell death. Rather, RA signalling may play a role in the thinning (rather than complete loss) of the interdigital tissue in the bat forelimb, while Meis2 may interact with other factors during both bat and mouse autopod development to maintain a pool of interdigital cells that contribute to digit patterning and growth.
Project description:Developmentally regulated programmed cell death sculpts the limbs and other embryonic organs in vertebrates. One intriguing example of species-specific differences in apoptotic extent is observed in the tissue between the digits. In chicks and mice, bone morphogenetic proteins (Bmps) trigger apoptosis of the interdigital mesenchyme, leading to freed digits, whereas in ducks, Bmp antagonists inhibit the apoptotic program, resulting in webbed feet. Here, we show that the phyllostomid bat Carollia perspicillata utilizes a distinct mechanism for maintaining interdigit tissue. We find that bat forelimb and hindlimb interdigital tissues express Bmp signaling components but that only bat hindlimbs undergo interdigital apoptosis. Strikingly, the retention of interdigital webbing in the bat forelimb is correlated with a unique pattern of Fgf8 expression in addition to the Bmp inhibitor Gremlin. By using a functional assay, we show that maintenance of interdigit tissue in the bat wing depends on the combined effects of high levels of Fgf signaling and inhibition of Bmp signaling. Our data also indicate that although there is not a conserved mechanism for maintaining interdigit tissue across amniotes, the expression in the bat forelimb interdigits of Gremlin and Fgf8 suggests that these key molecular changes contributed to the evolution of the bat wing.
Project description:Sonic hedgehog (Shh) plays an integral role in both the anterior-posterior (A-P) patterning and expansion of developing vertebrate limbs through a feedback loop involving Fgfs, Bmps, and Gremlin. In bat limbs A-P patterning and the size of the digital field are unique. The posterior digits of the forelimb are elongated and joined by tissue, whereas the thumb is short. The hindlimb digits often are uniform in length. Here, we reveal novel expression patterns for Shh and its target, Patched 1 (Ptc1), during limb development in two bat species. Early Shh expression in the zone of polarizing activity is wider in the bat forelimb than in the mouse forelimb, correlating with the reported expansion of Fgf8 expression in the apical ectodermal ridge and the early loss of symmetry in the bat forelimb. Later in limb development, Shh and Ptc1 expression is reinitiated in the interdigital tissue. Shh is graded along the A-P axis in forelimb and is expressed uniformly at a lower level across the hindlimb interdigital tissue. We also show that the reported Fgf8 expression in the interdigital tissue precedes the expression of Shh. We propose that the reinitiation of Shh and Fgf8 expression in bat limbs reactivates the Shh-Fgf feedback loop in the interdigital tissue of stage 16 bat embryos. The cell survival and proliferation signals provided by the Shh-Fgf signaling loop probably contribute to the lengthening of the posterior forelimb digits, the survival of the forelimb interdigital webbing, and the extension of the hindlimb digits to a uniform length.
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA), an active vitamin A metabolite, is a key signaling molecule in vertebrate embryos. Morphogenetic RA gradients are thought to be set up by tissue-specific actions of retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (RALDHs) and catabolizing enzymes. According to the species, two enzymatic pathways (?-carotene cleavage and retinol oxidation) generate retinaldehyde, the substrate of RALDHs. Placental species depend on maternal retinol transferred to the embryo. The retinol-to-retinaldehyde conversion was thought to be achieved by several redundant enzymes; however, a random mutagenesis screen identified retinol dehydrogenase 10 [Rdh10(Trex) allele; Sandell LL, et al. (2007) Genes Dev 21:1113-1124] as responsible for a homozygous lethal phenotype with features of RA deficiency. We report here the production and characterization of unique murine Rdh10 loss-of-function alleles generated by gene targeting. We show that although Rdh10(-/-) mutants die at an earlier stage than Rdh10(Trex) mutants, their molecular patterning defects do not reflect a complete state of RA deficiency. Furthermore, we were able to correct most developmental abnormalities by administering retinaldehyde to pregnant mothers, thereby obtaining viable Rdh10(-/-) mutants. This demonstrates the rescue of an embryonic lethal phenotype by simple maternal administration of the missing retinoid compound. These results underscore the importance of maternal retinoids in preventing congenital birth defects, and lead to a revised model of the importance of RDH10 and RALDHs in controlling embryonic RA distribution.
Project description:Regulation of patterning and morphogenesis during embryonic development depends on tissue-specific signaling by retinoic acid (RA), the active form of Vitamin A (retinol). The first enzymatic step in RA synthesis, the oxidation of retinol to retinal, is thought to be carried out by the ubiquitous or overlapping activities of redundant alcohol dehydrogenases. The second oxidation step, the conversion of retinal to RA, is performed by retinaldehyde dehydrogenases. Thus, the specific spatiotemporal distribution of retinoid synthesis is believed to be controlled exclusively at the level of the second oxidation reaction. In an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU)-induced forward genetic screen we discovered a new midgestation lethal mouse mutant, called trex, which displays craniofacial, limb, and organ abnormalities. The trex phenotype is caused by a mutation in the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase, RDH10. Using protein modeling, enzymatic assays, and mutant embryos, we determined that RDH10(trex) mutant protein lacks the ability to oxidize retinol to retinal, resulting in insufficient RA signaling. Thus, we show that the first oxidative step of Vitamin A metabolism, which is catalyzed in large part by the retinol dehydrogenase RDH10, is critical for the spatiotemporal synthesis of RA. Furthermore, these results identify a new nodal point in RA metabolism during embryogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Kangaroos and wallabies have specialised limbs that allow for their hopping mode of locomotion. The hindlimbs differentiate much later in development but become much larger than the forelimbs. The hindlimb autopod has only four digits, the fourth of which is greatly elongated, while digits two and three are syndactylous. We investigated the expression of two genes, HOXA13 and HOXD13, that are crucial for digit patterning in mice during formation of the limbs of the tammar wallaby. RESULTS: We describe the development of the tammar limbs at key stages before birth. There was marked heterochrony and the hindlimb developed more slowly than the forelimb. Both tammar HOXA13 and HOXD13 have two exons as in humans, mice and chickens. HOXA13 had an early and distal mRNA distribution in the tammar limb bud as in the mouse, but forelimb expression preceded that in the hindlimb. HOXD13 mRNA was expressed earlier in the forelimb than the hindlimb and was predominantly detected in the interdigital tissues of the forelimb. In contrast, the hindlimb had a more restricted expression pattern that appeared to be expressed at discrete points at both posterior and anterior margins of the limb bud, and was unlike expression seen in the mouse and the chicken. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first examination of HOXA and HOXD gene expression in a marsupial. The gene structure and predicted proteins were highly conserved with their eutherian orthologues. Interestingly, despite the morphological differences in hindlimb patterning, there were no modifications to the polyalanine tract of either HOXA13 or HOXD13 when compared to those of the mouse and bat but there was a marked difference between the tammar and the other mammals in the region of the first polyserine tract of HOXD13. There were also altered expression domains for both genes in the developing tammar limbs compared to the chicken and mouse. Together these findings suggest that the timing of HOX gene expression may contribute to the heterochrony of the forelimb and hindlimb and that alteration to HOX domains may influence phenotypic differences that lead to the development of marsupial syndactylous digits.
Project description:The bat offers an alternative paradigm to the standard mouse and chick model of limb development as it has extremely divergent forelimbs (long digits supporting a wing) and hindlimbs (short digits and claws) due the distinct requirements of both aerial and terrestrial locomotion. We used a cross-species microarray approach to identify differentially expressed (DE) genes between the bat (Minniopterus natalensis) forelimb and hindlimb autopods at Carollia developmental stages (CS) 16 and CS17, and between the bat (CS17) and mouse (E13.5) forelimb autopods. Several DE genes were identified, including two homeobox genes, Meis2, a proximal limb-patterning gene, and Hoxd11, a gene involved in digit elongation. Both genes are significantly over-expressed in the developing bat forelimb as compared to the hindlimb and equivalently staged mouse forelimbs. A reference design was used in this microarray experiment. A pool of left and right mouse forelimb autopods from 24 embryos was used as the reference sample. This sample was directly compared to individual CS16 and CS17 bat fore- and hindlimbs (left and right of one individual pooled) that were classified as the test conditions. Four experimental sessions were performed using an independently amplified mouse reference pool and 4 biological repeats for the bat limbs. These samples were co-hybridised to OPERON Mouse OpArray (ver. 4.0) spotted oligonucleotide slides to perform a competitive Cross-Species Hybridisation experiment. The bat aRNA (test) samples were labelled with Cy3 dye (green signal), the mouse aRNA (reference) sample was labelled with Cy5 dye (red signal).
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA) is thought to be a key signaling molecule involved in limb bud patterning along the proximodistal or anteroposterior axes functioning through induction of Meis2 and Shh, respectively. Here, we utilize Raldh2-/- and Raldh3-/- mouse embryos lacking RA synthesis to demonstrate that RA signaling is not required for limb expression of Shh and Meis2. We demonstrate that RA action is required outside of the limb field in the body axis during forelimb induction but that RA is unnecessary at later stages when hindlimb budding and patterning occur. We provide evidence for a model of trunk mesodermal RA action in which forelimb induction requires RA repression of Fgf8 in the developing trunk similar to how RA controls somitogenesis and heart development. We demonstrate that pectoral fin development in RA-deficient zebrafish embryos can be rescued by an FGF receptor antagonist SU5402. In addition, embryo ChIP assays demonstrate that RA receptors bind the Fgf8 promoter in vivo. Our findings suggest that RA signaling is not required for limb proximodistal or anteroposterior patterning but that RA inhibition of FGF8 signaling during the early stages of body axis extension provides an environment permissive for induction of forelimb buds.
Project description:Suppression of Meis genes in the distal limb bud is required for Proximal-Distal (PD) specification of the forelimb. Polycomb group (PcG) factors play a role in downregulation of retinoic acid (RA)-related signals in the distal forelimb bud, causing Meis repression. It is, however, not known if downregulation of RA-related signals and PcG-mediated proximal genes repression are functionally linked. Here, we reveal that PcG factors and RA-related signals antagonize each other to polarize Meis2 expression along the PD axis. With mathematical modeling and simulation, we propose that PcG factors are required to adjust the threshold for RA-related signaling to regulate Meis2 expression. Finally, we show that a variant Polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1), incorporating PCGF3 and PCGF5, represses Meis2 expression in the distal limb bud. Taken together, we reveal a previously unknown link between PcG proteins and downregulation of RA-related signals to mediate the phase transition of Meis2 transcriptional status during forelimb patterning. Overall design: ChIP-seq analysis of RAR and H3K27me3 in the proximal and distal forelimb buds at mouse E11.5
Project description:The elaborate anatomy of hands and feet is shaped by coordinated formation of digits and regression of the interdigital mesenchyme (IM). A failure of this process causes persistence of interdigital webbing and consequently cutaneous syndactyly. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are key inductive factors for interdigital cell death (ICD) in vivo. NOGGIN (NOG) is a major BMP antagonist that can interfere with BMP-induced ICD when applied exogenously, but its in vivo role in this process is unknown. We investigated the physiological role of NOG in ICD and found that Noggin null mice display cutaneous syndactyly and impaired interdigital mesenchyme specification. Failure of webbing regression was caused by lack of cell cycle exit and interdigital apoptosis. Unexpectedly, Noggin null mutants also exhibit increased Indian hedgehog (Ihh) expression within cartilage condensations that leads to aberrant extension of IHH downstream signaling into the interdigital mesenchyme. A converse phenotype with increased apoptosis and reduced cell proliferation was found in the interdigital mesenchyme of Ihh mutant embryos. Our data point towards a novel role for NOG in balancing Ihh expression in the digits impinging on digit-interdigit cross talk. This suggests a so far unrecognized physiological role for IHH in interdigital webbing biology.
Project description:Interdigital webbing has evolved repeatedly in tropical salamanders (bolitoglossines). This derived foot morphology is only one of many homoplastic traits in this diverse amphibian clade. Indeed, few if any morphological traits sort lineages within this clade. We investigate the processes underlying the homoplastic evolution of morphological characters in these salamanders by analyzing selective and developmental processes that generate interdigital webbing. We show that a pedomorphic developmental change generates the new foot morphology and that pedomorphosis affects a number of morphological traits, thus creating a developmental correlation among them. This correlation among traits is maintained across most species, thus facilitating the repeated evolution of traits. Although we find evidence that the changes in foot morphology are adaptive in one species, the evolution of webbing in all other species does not carry an adaptive signature. The new foot morphology therefore evolves repeatedly, even in the apparent absence of a direct selective advantage.