Timing of gene expression in a cell-fate decision system.
ABSTRACT: During development, morphogens provide extracellular cues allowing cells to select a specific fate by inducing complex transcriptional programs. The mating pathway in budding yeast offers simplified settings to understand this process. Pheromone secreted by the mating partner triggers the activity of a MAPK pathway, which results in the expression of hundreds of genes. Using a dynamic expression reporter, we quantified the kinetics of gene expression in single cells upon exogenous pheromone stimulation and in the physiological context of mating. In both conditions, we observed striking differences in the timing of induction of mating-responsive promoters. Biochemical analyses and generation of synthetic promoter variants demonstrated how the interplay between transcription factor binding and nucleosomes contributes to determine the kinetics of transcription in a simplified cell-fate decision system.
Project description:Communication between cells and their environments is often mediated by G protein-coupled receptors and cognate G proteins. In fungi, one such signaling cascade is the mating pathway triggered by pheromone/pheromone receptor recognition. Unlike Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which expresses two Galpha subunits, most filamentous ascomycetes and basidiomycetes have three Galpha subunits. Previous studies have defined the Galpha subunit acting upstream of the cAMP-protein kinase A pathway, but it has been unclear which Galpha subunit is coupled to the pheromone receptor and response pathway. Here we report that in the pathogenic basidiomycetous yeast Cryptococcus neoformans, two Galpha subunits (Gpa2, Gpa3) sense pheromone and govern mating. gpa2 gpa3 double mutants, but neither gpa2 nor gpa3 single mutants, are sterile in bilateral crosses. By contrast, deletion of GPA3 (but not GPA2) constitutively activates pheromone response and filamentation. Expression of GPA2 and GPA3 is differentially regulated: GPA3 expression is induced by nutrient-limitation, whereas GPA2 is induced during mating. Based on the phenotype of dominant active alleles, Gpa2 and Gpa3 signal in opposition: Gpa2 promotes mating, whereas Gpa3 inhibits. The incorporation of an additional Galpha into the regulatory circuit enabled increased signaling complexity and facilitated cell fate decisions involving choice between yeast growth and filamentous asexual/sexual development.
Project description:Massive technological advances enabled high-throughput measurements of proteomic changes in biological processes. However, retrieving biological insights from large-scale protein dynamics data remains a challenging task. Here we used the mating differentiation in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model and developed integrated experimental and computational approaches to analyze the proteomic dynamics during the process of cell fate determination. When exposed to a high dose of mating pheromone, the yeast cell undergoes growth arrest and forms a shmoo-like morphology; however, at intermediate doses, chemotropic elongated growth is initialized. To understand the gene regulatory networks that control this differentiation switch, we employed a high-throughput microfluidic imaging system that allows real-time and simultaneous measurements of cell growth and protein expression. Using kinetic modeling of protein dynamics, we classified the stimulus-dependent changes in protein abundance into two sources: global changes due to physiological alterations and gene-specific changes. A quantitative framework was proposed to decouple gene-specific regulatory modes from the growth-dependent global modulation of protein abundance. Based on the temporal patterns of gene-specific regulation, we established the network architectures underlying distinct cell fates using a reverse engineering method and uncovered the dose-dependent rewiring of gene regulatory network during mating differentiation. Furthermore, our results suggested a potential crosstalk between the pheromone response pathway and the target of rapamycin (TOR)-regulated ribosomal biogenesis pathway, which might underlie a cell differentiation switch in yeast mating response. In summary, our modeling approach addresses the distinct impacts of the global and gene-specific regulation on the control of protein dynamics and provides new insights into the mechanisms of cell fate determination. We anticipate that our integrated experimental and modeling strategies could be widely applicable to other biological systems.
Project description:In the yeast <i>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</i>, the exposure to mating pheromone activates a prototypic mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade and triggers a dose-dependent differentiation response. Whereas a high pheromone dose induces growth arrest and formation of a shmoo-like morphology in yeast cells, lower pheromone doses elicit elongated cell growth. Previous population-level analysis has revealed that the MAPK Fus3 plays an important role in mediating this differentiation switch. To further investigate how Fus3 controls the fate decision process at the single-cell level, we developed a specific translocation-based reporter for monitoring Fus3 activity in individual live cells. Using this reporter, we observed strikingly different dynamic patterns of Fus3 activation in single cells differentiated into distinct fates. Cells committed to growth arrest and shmoo formation exhibited sustained Fus3 activation. In contrast, most cells undergoing elongated growth showed either a delayed gradual increase or pulsatile dynamics of Fus3 activity. Furthermore, we found that chemically perturbing Fus3 dynamics with a specific inhibitor could effectively redirect the mating differentiation, confirming the causative role of Fus3 dynamics in driving cell fate decisions. MAPKs mediate proliferation and differentiation signals in mammals and are therapeutic targets in many cancers. Our results highlight the importance of MAPK dynamics in regulating single-cell responses and open up the possibility that MAPK signaling dynamics could be a pharmacological target in therapeutic interventions.
Project description:The ability to specify and maintain discrete cell fates is essential for development. However, the dynamics underlying selection and stability of distinct cell types remain poorly understood. Here, we provide a quantitative single-cell analysis of commitment dynamics during the mating-mitosis switch in budding yeast. Commitment to division corresponds precisely to activating the G1 cyclin positive feedback loop in competition with the cyclin inhibitor Far1. Cyclin-dependent phosphorylation and inhibition of the mating pathway scaffold Ste5 are required to ensure exclusive expression of the mitotic transcriptional program after cell cycle commitment. Failure to commit exclusively results in coexpression of both cell cycle and pheromone-induced genes, and a morphologically mixed inviable cell fate. Thus, specification and maintenance of a cellular state are performed by distinct interactions, which are likely a consequence of disparate reaction rates and may be a general feature of the interlinked regulatory networks responsible for selecting cell fates.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Mating decreases female receptivity and terminates sex pheromone production in moths. Although significant progress has been made in elucidating the mating-regulated inactivation of pheromone biosynthesis-activating neuropeptide (PBAN) secretion, little is known about the mating induced gene expression profiles in pheromone glands (PGs). In this study, the associated genes involved in Bombyx mori mating were identified through digital gene expression (DGE) profiling and subsequent RNA interference (RNAi) to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the mating-regulated gene expression in PGs. RESULTS: Eight DGE libraries were constructed from the PGs of mated and virgin females: 1 h mating (M1)/virgin (V1) PGs, 3 h mating (M3)/virgin (V3) PGs, 24 h mating (M24)/virgin (V24) PGs and 48 h mating (M48)/virgin (V48) PGs (M48 and V48). These libraries were used to investigate the gene expression profiles affected by mating. DGE profiling revealed a series of genes showing differential expression in each set of mated and virgin female samples, including immune-associated genes, sex pheromone synthesis-associated genes, juvenile hormone (JH) signal-associated genes, etc. Most interestingly, JH signal was found to be activated by mating. Application of the JH mimics, methoprene to the newly-emerged virgin females leaded to the significant reduction of sex pheromone production. RNAi-mediated knockdown of putative JH receptor gene, Methoprene tolerant 1 (Met1), in female pupa resulted in a significant decrease in sex pheromone production in mature females, suggesting the importance of JH in sex pheromone synthesis. CONCLUSION: A series of differentially expressed genes in PGs in response to mating was identified. This study improves our understanding of the role of JH signaling on the mating-elicited termination of sex pheromone production.
Project description:Mating pheromone signaling is essential for conjugation between haploid cells of P-type (P-cells) and haploid cells of M-type (M-cells) in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. A peptide pheromone, M-factor, produced by M-cells is recognized by the receptor of P-cells. An M-factor-less mutant, in which the M-factor-encoding genes are deleted, is completely sterile. In liquid culture, sexual agglutination was not observed in the mutant, but it could be recovered by adding exogenous synthetic M-factor, which stimulated expression of the P-type-specific cell adhesion protein, Map4. Exogenous M-factor, however, failed to recover the cell fusion defect in the M-factor-less mutant. When M-factor-less cells were added to a mixture of wild-type P- and M-cells, marked cell aggregates were formed. Notably, M-factor-less mutant cells were also incorporated in these aggregates. In this mixed culture, P-cells conjugated preferentially with M-cells secreting M-factor, and rarely with M-factor-less M-cells. The kinetics of mating parameters in liquid culture revealed that polarized growth commenced from the contact region of opposite mating-type cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that M-factor at a low concentration induces adhesin expression, leading to initial cell-cell adhesion in a type of "distal pheromone action", but M-factor that is secreted directly in the proximity of the adhered P-cells may be necessary for cell fusion in a type of "proximal pheromone action".
Project description:Traditionally, in vitro generation of donor cells for brain repair has been dominated by the application of extrinsic growth factors and morphogens. Recent advances in cell engineering strategies such as reprogramming of somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells and direct cell fate conversion have impressively demonstrated the feasibility to manipulate cell identities by the overexpression of cell fate-determining transcription factors. These strategies are now increasingly implemented for transcription factor-guided differentiation of neural precursors and forward programming of pluripotent stem cells toward specific neural subtypes. This review covers major achievements, pros and cons, as well as future prospects of transcription factor-based cell fate specification and the applicability of these approaches for the generation of donor cells for brain repair.
Project description:Discovery of sexual development in the ascomycete Trichoderma reesei (Hypocrea jecorina) as well as detection of a novel class of peptide pheromone precursors in this fungus indicates promising insights into its physiology and lifestyle. Here we investigated the role of the two pheromone receptors HPR1 and HPR2 in the H. jecorina pheromone-system. We found that these pheromone receptors show an unexpectedly high genetic variability among H. jecorina strains. HPR1 and HPR2 confer female fertility in their cognate mating types (MAT1-1 or MAT1-2, respectively) and mediate induction of fruiting body development. One compatible pheromone precursor-pheromone receptor pair (hpr1-hpp1 or hpr2-ppg1) in mating partners was sufficient for sexual development. Additionally, pheromone receptors were essential for ascospore development, hence indicating their involvement in post-fertilisation events. Neither pheromone precursor genes nor pheromone receptor genes of H. jecorina were transcribed in a strictly mating type dependent manner, but showed enhanced expression levels in the cognate mating type. In the presence of a mating partner under conditions favoring sexual development, transcript levels of pheromone precursors were significantly increased, while those of pheromone receptor genes do not show this trend. In the female sterile T. reesei strain QM6a, transcriptional responses of pheromone precursor and pheromone receptor genes to a mating partner were clearly altered compared to the female fertile wild-type strain CBS999.97. Consequently, a delayed and inappropriate response to the mating partner may be one aspect causing female sterility in QM6a.
Project description:Eukaryotic genomes can be organized into distinct domains of heterochromatin or euchromatin. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, assembly of heterochromatin at the silent mating-type region is critical for cell fate determination in the form of mating-type switching. Here, we report that the ubiquitin ligase, Msc1, is a critical factor required for proper cell fate determination in S. pombe. In the absence of Msc1, the in vivo mobility of Swi6 at heterochromatic foci is compromised, and centromere heterochromatin becomes hyperenriched with the heterochromatin binding protein Swi6/HP1. However, at the mating-type locus, Swi6 recruitment is defective in the absence of Msc1. Therefore, Msc1 links maintaining dynamic heterochromatin with proper heterochromatin assembly and cell fate determination. These findings have implications for understanding mechanisms of differentiation in other organisms.
Project description:We investigated the relationships of the Cek1 and Cek2 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases and the putative MAP kinase phosphatase Cpp1 in the mating process of Candida albicans Mutants of the CPP1 gene are hyperresponsive to pheromone, generating large halos, high levels of projections, and an increase in pheromone-responsive gene expression. Mating-type-homozygous opaque cells that lack both kinases are sterile, consistent with previous observations, although several lines of evidence show that the two kinases do not simply provide redundant functions in the mating process. Loss of CEK1 reduces mating significantly, to about 0.3% of wild-type strains, and also reduces projection formation and pheromone-mediated gene expression. In contrast, loss of CEK2 has less of an effect, reducing mating to approximately one-third that of the wild-type strain and moderately reducing projection formation but having little influence on the induction of gene expression. However, loss of Cek2 function reduces adaptation to pheromone-mediated arrest. The mutation enhances pheromone response halos to a level similar to that of cpp1 mutants, although the cpp1 mutants are considerably more mating defective than the cek2 mutant. The double cek2 cpp1 mutant shows enhanced responsiveness relative to either single mutant in terms of gene expression and halo formation, suggesting the kinase and phosphatase roles in the adaptation process are independent. Analysis of protein phosphorylation shows that Cek1 undergoes pheromone-mediated phosphorylation of the activation loop, and this phosphorylation is enhanced in cells lacking either the Cpp1 phosphatase or the Cek2 kinase. In addition, Cek1-GFP shows enhanced nuclear localization in response to pheromone treatment. In contrast, Cek2 shows no evidence for pheromone-mediated phosphorylation or pheromone-mediated nuclear localization. Intriguingly, however, deletion of CPP1 enhances both the phosphorylation state and the nuclear localization of Cek2-GFP. Overall, these results identify a complex interaction among the MAP kinases and MAP kinase phosphatase that function in the C. albicans mating pathway.IMPORTANCE MAP kinases and their regulators are critical components of eukaryotic signaling pathways implicated in normal cell behavior as well as abnormal behaviors linked to diseases such as cancer. The mating pathway of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was central in establishing the MAP kinase paradigm. Here we investigate the mating pathway in a different ascomycete, the fungal pathogen C. albicans In this dimorphic fungus MAP kinases are also implicated in the mating response, with two MAP kinases apparently playing redundant roles in the mating process. This work establishes that while some level of mating can occur in the presence of a single kinase, the Cek1 kinase is most important for mating, while the Cek2 kinase is involved in adaptation to signaling. While both kinases appear to be themselves regulated by dephosphorylation through the action of the Cpp1 phosphatase, this process appears important for mating only in the case of Cek1.