Retinoic acid receptor subtype-specific transcriptotypes in the early zebrafish embryo.
ABSTRACT: Retinoic acid (RA) controls many aspects of embryonic development by binding to specific receptors (retinoic acid receptors [RARs]) that regulate complex transcriptional networks. Three different RAR subtypes are present in vertebrates and play both common and specific roles in transducing RA signaling. Specific activities of each receptor subtype can be correlated with its exclusive expression pattern, whereas shared activities between different subtypes are generally assimilated to functional redundancy. However, the question remains whether some subtype-specific activity still exists in regions or organs coexpressing multiple RAR subtypes. We tackled this issue at the transcriptional level using early zebrafish embryo as a model. Using morpholino knockdown, we specifically invalidated the zebrafish endogenous RAR subtypes in an in vivo context. After building up a list of RA-responsive genes in the zebrafish gastrula through a whole-transcriptome analysis, we compared this panel of genes with those that still respond to RA in embryos lacking one or another RAR subtype. Our work reveals that RAR subtypes do not have fully redundant functions at the transcriptional level but can transduce RA signal in a subtype-specific fashion. As a result, we define RAR subtype-specific transcriptotypes that correspond to repertoires of genes activated by different RAR subtypes. Finally, we found genes of the RA pathway (cyp26a1, raraa) the regulation of which by RA is highly robust and can even resist the knockdown of all RARs. This suggests that RA-responsive genes are differentially sensitive to alterations in the RA pathway and, in particular, cyp26a1 and raraa are under a high pressure to maintain signaling integrity.
Project description:Using zebrafish as a model, we previously reported that developmental exposure to triphenyl phosphate (TPP) - a high-production volume organophosphate-based flame retardant - results in dioxin-like cardiac looping impairments that are independent of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Using a pharmacologic approach, the objective of this study was to investigate the potential role of retinoic acid receptor (RAR) - a nuclear receptor that regulates vertebrate heart morphogenesis - in mediating TPP-induced developmental toxicity in zebrafish. We first revealed that static exposure of zebrafish from 5-72h post-fertilization (hpf) to TPP in the presence of non-toxic concentrations of an RAR antagonist (BMS493) significantly enhanced TPP-induced toxicity (relative to TPP alone), even though identical non-toxic BMS493 concentrations mitigated retinoic acid (RA)-induced toxicity. BMS493-mediated enhancement of TPP toxicity was not a result of differential TPP uptake or metabolism, as internal embryonic doses of TPP and diphenyl phosphate (DPP) - a primary TPP metabolite - were not different in the presence or absence of BMS493. Using real-time PCR, we then quantified the relative change in expression of cytochrome P450 26a1 (cyp26a1) - a major target gene for RA-induced RAR activation in zebrafish - and found that RA and TPP exposure resulted in a ?5-fold increase and decrease in cyp26a1 expression, respectively, relative to vehicle-exposed embryos. To address whether TPP may interact with human RARs, we then exposed Chinese hamster ovary cells stably transfected with chimeric human RAR?-, RAR?-, or RAR? to TPP in the presence of RA, and found that TPP significantly inhibited RA-induced luciferase activity in a concentration-dependent manner. Overall, our findings suggest that zebrafish RARs may be involved in mediating TPP-induced developmental toxicity, a mechanism of action that may have relevance to humans.
Project description:Normal embryonic development and tissue homeostasis require precise levels of retinoic acid (RA) signaling. Despite the importance of appropriate embryonic RA signaling levels, the mechanisms underlying congenital defects due to perturbations of RA signaling are not completely understood. Here, we report that zebrafish embryos deficient for RA receptor ?b1 (RAR?b1), a conserved RAR splice variant, have enlarged hearts with increased cardiomyocyte (CM) specification, which are surprisingly the consequence of increased RA signaling. Importantly, depletion of RAR?b2 or concurrent depletion of RAR?b1 and RAR?b2 also results in increased RA signaling, suggesting this effect is a broader consequence of RAR depletion. Concurrent depletion of RAR?b1 and Cyp26a1, an enzyme that facilitates degradation of RA, and employment of a novel transgenic RA sensor line support the hypothesis that the increases in RA signaling in RAR deficient embryos are the result of increased embryonic RA coupled with compensatory RAR expression. Our results support an intriguing novel mechanism by which depletion of RARs elicits a previously unrecognized positive feedback loop that can result in developmental defects due to teratogenic increases in embryonic RA.
Project description:Retinoids have been shown to serve promising therapeutic agents for human cancers, e.g. the treatment of neuroblastoma. Synthetic retinoids, specific for particular retinoic acid (RA) receptors, are tested as new therapy strategies. In the present study, application of recombinant retinoic acid (RA) lowers retinoblastoma (RB) cell viability and induces apoptosis in RB cell lines. Combined treatment of RA and bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP-4) increases the pro-apoptotic effect of RA in the RB cells lines WERI-Rb1, Y-79, RB355, RBL-30 and RBL-15, indicating an additive effect. We could show that in WERI-Rb1 cells RA/BMP-4 mediated cell death is at least partially caspase-dependent, whereby RA and BMP-4 additively increased (i) Apaf-1 mRNA levels, (ii) caspase-9 cleavage activity and (iii) the number of activated, cleaved caspase-3 positive cells. Compared to single application of RA and BMP-4, combined RA/BMP-4 treatment significantly augments mRNA levels of the retinoic acid receptors (RARs) RAR? and RARß and the retinoic X receptor (RXR) RXR? suggesting an interaction in the induction of these RA receptor subtypes in WERI-Rb1 cells. Agonist studies revealed that both, RARs and RXRs are involved in RA/BMP-4 mediated apoptosis in WERI-Rb1 retinoblastoma cells. Employing specific RAR subtype antagonists and a RXRß and RXR? knockdown, we proved that RA/BMP-4 apoptosis signaling in WERI-Rb1 cells requires the RA receptor subtypes RAR?, RARß, RXRß and RXR?. Deciphering signaling mechanisms underlying apoptosis induction of RA and BMP-4 in WERI-Rb1 cells, our study provides useful starting-points for future retinoid-based therapy strategies in retinoblastoma.
Project description:All-trans-retinoic acid (RA), a potent inducer of cellular differentiation, functions as a ligand for retinoic acid receptors (RAR?, ?, and ?). RARs are activated by ligand binding, which induces transcription of direct genomic targets. However, whether embryonic stem cells respond to RA through routes that do not involve RARs is unknown. Here, we used CRISPR technology to introduce biallelic frameshift mutations in RAR?, RAR?, and RAR?, thereby abrogating all RAR functions in murine embryonic stem cells. We then evaluated RA-responsiveness of the RAR-null cells using RNA-Seq transcriptome analysis. We found that the RAR-null cells display no changes in transcripts in response to RA, demonstrating that the RARs are essential for the regulation of all transcripts in murine embryonic stem cells in response to RA. Our key finding, that in embryonic stem cells the transcriptional effects of RA all depend on RARs, addresses a long-standing topic of discussion in the field of retinoic acid signaling.
Project description:The pleiotropic activities of retinoids are mediated by two types of nuclear receptors, the retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and the retinoid X receptors (RXRs). All-trans-retinoic acid (RA) transcriptionally activates RARs, but not RXRs, whereas its natural stereoisomer, 9-cis-RA, is the ligand for RXRs. Here, we demonstrate that 9-cis-RA did not transcriptionally activate RARs, whereas in the presence of all-trans-RA the transactivation of RARs was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by 9-cis-RA. RAR homodimer complexes were destabilized in vitro in the presence of 9-cis-RA. This suggests that 9-cis-RA may be a natural antagonist of all-trans-RA for binding to RAR complexes. The levels of 9-cis-RA may determine by which pathway the transcription of retinoid-responsive genes is modulated.
Project description:Endogenous retinoids like all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) play important roles in skin homeostasis and skin-based immune responses. Moreover, retinoid signaling was found to be dysregulated in various skin diseases. The present study used topical application of selective agonists and antagonists for retinoic acid receptors (RARs) ? and ? and retinoid-X receptors (RXRs) for two weeks on mouse skin in order to determine the role of retinoid receptor subtypes in the gene regulation in skin. We observed pronounced epidermal hyperproliferation upon application of ATRA and synthetic agonists for RAR? and RXR. ATRA and the RAR? agonist further increased retinoid target gene expression (Rbp1, Crabp2, Krt4, Cyp26a1, Cyp26b1) and the chemokines Ccl17 and Ccl22. In contrast, a RAR? agonist strongly decreased the expression of ATRA-synthesis enzymes, of retinoid target genes, markers of skin homeostasis, and various cytokines in the skin, thereby markedly resembling the expression profile induced by RXR and RAR antagonists. Our results indicate that RAR? and RAR? subtypes possess different roles in the skin and may be of relevance for the auto-regulation of endogenous retinoid signaling in skin. We suggest that dysregulated retinoid signaling in the skin mediated by RXR, RAR? and/or RAR? may promote skin-based inflammation and dysregulation of skin barrier properties.
Project description:RA receptors (RARs) have been thought to function through a binary repressor-activator mechanism: in the absence of ligand, they function as transcriptional repressors, and, in the presence of ligand, they function as transcriptional activators. This prevailing model of RAR mechanism has been derived mostly from in vitro studies and has not been widely tested in developmental contexts. Here, we investigate whether zebrafish RARs function as transcriptional activators or repressors during early embryonic anterior-posterior patterning. Ectopic expression of wild-type zebrafish RARs does not disrupt embryonic patterning and does not sensitize embryos to RA treatment, indicating that RAR availability is not limiting in the embryo. In contrast, ectopic expression of hyperactive zebrafish RARs induces expression of a RA-responsive reporter transgene as well as ectopic expression of endogenous RA-responsive target genes. However, ectopic expression of dominant negative zebrafish RARs fails to induce embryonic phenotypes that are consistent with loss of RA signaling, despite their ability to function as transcriptional repressors in heterologous cell culture assays. Together, our studies suggest that zebrafish RAR function is context-dependent and that, during early patterning, zebrafish RARs function primarily as transcriptional activators and may only have minimal ability to act as transcriptional repressors. Thus, it seems that the binary model for RAR function does not apply to all in vivo scenarios. Taking into account studies of RA signaling in tunicates and tetrapods, we propose a parsimonious model of the evolution of RAR function during chordate anterior-posterior patterning.
Project description:Renal agenesis (RA) is one of the more extreme examples of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). Bilateral renal agenesis is almost invariably fatal at birth, and unilateral renal agenesis can lead to future health issues including end-stage renal disease. Genetic investigations have identified several gene variants that cause RA, including EYA1, LHX1, and WT1 However, whereas compound null mutations of genes encoding ? and ? retinoic acid receptors (RARs) cause RA in mice, to date there have been no reports of variants in RAR genes causing RA in humans. In this study, we carried out whole exome sequence analysis of two families showing inheritance of an RA phenotype, and in both identified a single candidate gene, GREB1L Analysis of a zebrafish greb1l loss-of-function mutant revealed defects in the pronephric kidney just prior to death, and F0 CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis of Greb1l in the mouse revealed kidney agenesis phenotypes, implicating Greb1l in this disorder. GREB1L resides in a chromatin complex with RAR members, and our data implicate GREB1L as a coactivator for RARs. This study is the first to associate a component of the RAR pathway with renal agenesis in humans.
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA) signaling regulates multiple aspects of vertebrate embryonic development and tissue patterning, in part through the local availability of nuclear hormone receptors called retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and retinoid receptors (RXRs). RAR/RXR heterodimers transduce the RA signal, and loss-of-function studies in mice have demonstrated requirements for distinct receptor combinations at different stages of embryogenesis. However, the tissue-specific functions of each receptor and their individual contributions to RA signaling in vivo are only partially understood. Here we use morpholino oligonucleotides to deplete the four known zebrafish RARs (raraa, rarab, rarga, and rargb). We show that while all four are required for anterior-posterior patterning of rhombomeres in the hindbrain, there are unique requirements for rarga in the cranial mesoderm for hindbrain patterning, and rarab in lateral plate mesoderm for specification of the pectoral fins. In addition, the alpha subclass (raraa, rarab) is RA inducible, and of these only raraa expression is RA-dependent, suggesting that these receptors establish a region of particularly high RA signaling through positive-feedback. These studies reveal novel tissue-specific roles for RARs in controlling the competence and sensitivity of cells to respond to RA.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Retinoic acid (RA) signaling controls many developmental processes in chordates, from early axis specification to late organogenesis. The functions of RA are chiefly mediated by a subfamily of nuclear hormone receptors, the retinoic acid receptors (RARs), that act as ligand-activated transcription factors. While RARs have been extensively studied in jawed vertebrates (that is, gnathostomes) and invertebrate chordates, very little is known about the repertoire and developmental roles of RARs in cyclostomes, which are extant jawless vertebrates. Here, we present the first extensive study of cyclostome RARs focusing on three different lamprey species: the European freshwater lamprey, Lampetra fluviatilis, the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, and the Japanese lamprey, Lethenteron japonicum. RESULTS: We identified four rar paralogs (rar1, rar2, rar3, and rar4) in each of the three lamprey species, and phylogenetic analyses indicate a complex evolutionary history of lamprey rar genes including the origin of rar1 and rar4 by lineage-specific duplication after the lamprey-hagfish split. We further assessed their expression patterns during embryonic development by in situ hybridization. The results show that lamprey rar genes are generally characterized by dynamic and highly specific expression domains in different embryonic tissues. In particular, lamprey rar genes exhibit combinatorial expression domains in the anterior central nervous system (CNS) and the pharyngeal region. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the genome of lampreys encodes at least four rar genes and suggest that the lamprey rar complement arose from vertebrate-specific whole genome duplications followed by a lamprey-specific duplication event. Moreover, we describe a combinatorial code of lamprey rar expression in both anterior CNS and pharynx resulting from dynamic and highly specific expression patterns during embryonic development. This 'RAR code' might function in regionalization and patterning of these two tissues by differentially modulating the expression of downstream effector genes during development.