PAPC couples the segmentation clock to somite morphogenesis by regulating N-cadherin-dependent adhesion.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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: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:Somites in vertebrates are periodic segmented structures that give rise to the vertebrae and muscles of body. Somites are generated from presomitic mesoderm (PSM), but it is not fully understood how cellular differentiation and segment formation are achieved in the anterior PSM. We report here that zebrafish gadd45beta1 and gadd45beta2 genes are periodically expressed as paired stripes adjacent to the neural tube in the anterior PSM region where presomitic cells mature. In mammals, it is known that GADD45 (growth arrest and DNA damage) family proteins play a role in cell-cycle control. We found that both knockdown and overexpression of gadd45beta genes caused somite defects with different consequences for marker gene expression. Knockdown of gadd45beta genes with antisense morpholino oligonucleotides caused a broad expansion of mesp-a in the PSM, and both cyclic expression of her1 and segmented expression of MyoD were disorganized. On the other hand, injection of gadd45beta1 or gadd45beta2 suppressed expression of mesp-a and her1 in anterior PSM and MyoD in paraxial mesoderm. These results indicate that regulated expression of gadd45beta genes in the anterior PSM is required for somite segmentation.
Project description:The vertebral column is a conserved anatomical structure that defines the vertebrate phylum. The periodic or segmental pattern of the vertebral column is established early in development when the vertebral precursors, the somites, are rhythmically produced from presomitic mesoderm (PSM). This rhythmic activity is controlled by a segmentation clock that is associated with the periodic transcription of cyclic genes in the PSM. Comparison of the mouse, chicken and zebrafish PSM oscillatory transcriptomes revealed networks of 40 to 100 cyclic genes mostly involved in Notch, Wnt and FGF signaling pathways. However, despite this conserved signaling oscillation, the identity of individual cyclic genes mostly differed between the three species, indicating a surprising evolutionary plasticity of the segmentation networks.
Project description:The periodic segmentation of the vertebrate body axis into somites, and later vertebrae, relies on a genetic oscillator (the segmentation clock) driving the rhythmic activity of signaling pathways in the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). To understand whether oscillations are an intrinsic property of individual cells or represent a population-level phenomenon, we established culture conditions for stable oscillations at the cellular level. This system was used to demonstrate that oscillations are a collective property of PSM cells that can be actively triggered in vitro by a dynamical quorum sensing signal involving Yap and Notch signaling. Manipulation of Yap-dependent mechanical cues is sufficient to predictably switch isolated PSM cells from a quiescent to an oscillatory state in vitro, a behavior reminiscent of excitability in other systems. Together, our work argues that the segmentation clock behaves as an excitable system, introducing a broader paradigm to study such dynamics in vertebrate morphogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Recent discoveries in the field of somitogenesis have confirmed, for the most part, the feasibility of the clock and wavefront model. There are good candidates for both the clock (various genes expressed cyclically in the tail bud of vertebrate embryos have been discovered) and the wavefront (there are at least three different substances, whose expression levels vary along the presomitic mesoderm [PSM], that have important effects on the formation of somites). Nevertheless, the mechanisms through which the wavefront interacts with the clock to arrest the oscillations and induce somite formation have not yet been fully elucidated. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this work, we propose a gene regulatory network which is consistent with all known experimental facts in embryonic mice, and whose dynamic behaviour provides a potential explanation for the periodic aggregation of PSM cells into blocks: the first step leading to the formation of somites. SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge, this is the first proposed mechanism that fully explains how a block of PSM cells can stop oscillating simultaneously, and how this process is repeated periodically, via the interaction of the segmentation clock and the determination front.
Project description:Vertebrate embryo somite formation is temporally controlled by the cyclic expression of somitogenesis clock genes in the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). The somitogenesis clock is believed to be an intrinsic property of this tissue, operating independently of embryonic midline structures and the signaling molecules produced therein, namely Sonic hedgehog (Shh). This work revisits the notochord signaling contribution to temporal control of PSM segmentation by assessing the rate and number of somites formed and somitogenesis molecular clock gene expression oscillations upon notochord ablation. The absence of the notochord causes a delay in somite formation, accompanied by an increase in the period of molecular clock oscillations. Shh is the notochord-derived signal responsible for this effect, as these alterations are recapitulated by Shh signaling inhibitors and rescued by an external Shh supply. We have characterized chick smoothened expression pattern and have found that the PSM expresses both patched1 and smoothened Shh signal transducers. Upon notochord ablation, patched1, gli1, and fgf8 are down-regulated, whereas gli2 and gli3 are overexpressed. Strikingly, notochord-deprived PSM segmentation rate recovers over time, concomitant with raldh2 overexpression. Accordingly, exogenous RA supplement rescues notochord ablation effects on somite formation. A model is presented in which Shh and RA pathways converge to inhibit PSM Gli activity, ensuring timely somite formation. Altogether, our data provide evidence that a balance between different pathways ensures the robustness of timely somite formation and that notochord-derived Shh is a component of the molecular network regulating the pace of the somitogenesis clock.