A Requirement for Zic2 in the Regulation of Nodal Expression Underlies the Establishment of Left-Sided Identity.
ABSTRACT: ZIC2 mutation is known to cause holoprosencephaly (HPE). A subset of ZIC2 HPE probands harbour cardiovascular and visceral anomalies suggestive of laterality defects. 3D-imaging of novel mouse Zic2 mutants uncovers, in addition to HPE, laterality defects in lungs, heart, vasculature and viscera. A strong bias towards right isomerism indicates a failure to establish left identity in the lateral plate mesoderm (LPM), a phenotype that cannot be explained simply by the defective ciliogenesis previously noted in Zic2 mutants. Gene expression analysis showed that the left-determining NODAL-dependent signalling cascade fails to be activated in the LPM, and that the expression of Nodal at the node, which normally triggers this event, is itself defective in these embryos. Analysis of ChiP-seq data, in vitro transcriptional assays and mutagenesis reveals a requirement for a low-affinity ZIC2 binding site for the activation of the Nodal enhancer HBE, which is normally active in node precursor cells. These data show that ZIC2 is required for correct Nodal expression at the node and suggest a model in which ZIC2 acts at different levels to establish LR asymmetry, promoting both the production of the signal that induces left side identity and the morphogenesis of the cilia that bias its distribution.
Project description:The determination of left-right body asymmetry in mouse embryos depends on the interplay of molecules in a highly sensitive structure, the node. Here, we show that the localization of Cerl2 protein does not correlate to its mRNA expression pattern, from 3-somite stage onwards. Instead, Cerl2 protein displays a nodal flow-dependent dynamic behavior that controls the activity of Nodal in the node, and the transmission of the laterality information to the left lateral plate mesoderm (LPM). Our results indicate that Cerl2 initially localizes and prevents the activation of Nodal genetic circuitry on the right side of the embryo, and later its right-to-left translocation shutdowns Nodal activity in the node. The consequent prolonged Nodal activity in the node by the absence of Cerl2 affects local Nodal expression and prolongs its expression in the LPM. Simultaneous genetic removal of both Nodal node inhibitors, Cerl2 and Lefty1, sustains even longer and bilateral this LPM expression.
Project description:Nodal activity in the left lateral plate mesoderm (LPM) is required to activate left-sided Nodal signaling in the epithalamic region of the zebrafish forebrain. Epithalamic Nodal signaling subsequently determines the laterality of neuroanatomical asymmetries. We show that overactivation of Wnt/Axin1/beta-catenin signaling during late gastrulation leads to bilateral epithalamic expression of Nodal pathway genes independently of LPM Nodal signaling. This is consistent with a model whereby epithalamic Nodal signaling is normally bilaterally repressed, with Nodal signaling from the LPM unilaterally alleviating repression. We suggest that Wnt signaling regulates the establishment of the bilateral repression. We identify a second role for the Wnt pathway in the left/right regulation of LPM Nodal pathway gene expression, and finally, we show that at later stages Axin1 is required for the elaboration of concordant neuroanatomical asymmetries.
Project description:Correct establishment of the left/right (L/R) body asymmetry in the mouse embryo requires asymmetric activation of the evolutionarily conserved Nodal signaling cascade in the left lateral plate mesoderm (L-LPM). Furthermore, the presence of Nodal in the node is essential for its own expression in the L-LPM. Here, we have characterized the function of cerl-2, a novel Nodal antagonist, which displays a unique asymmetric expression on the right side of the mouse node. cerl-2 knockout mice display multiple laterality defects including randomization of the L/R axis. These defects can be partially rescued by removing one nodal allele. Our results demonstrate that Cerl-2 plays a key role in restricting the Nodal signaling pathway toward the left side of the mouse embryo by preventing its activity in the right side.
Project description:Holoprosencephaly (HPE), the most common malformation of the human forebrain, may be due to mutations in genes associated with non-syndromic HPE. Mutations in ZIC2, located on chromosome 13q32, are a common cause of non-syndromic, non-chromosomal HPE.To characterise genetic and clinical findings in patients with ZIC2 mutations.Through the National Institutes of Health and collaborating centres, DNA from approximately 1200 individuals with HPE spectrum disorders was analysed for sequence variations in ZIC2. Clinical details were examined and all other known cases of mutations in ZIC2 were included through a literature search.By direct sequencing of DNA samples of an unselected group of unrelated patients with HPE in our NIH laboratory, ZIC2 mutations were found in 8.4% (49/582) of probands. A total of 157 individuals from 119 unrelated kindreds are described, including 141 patients with intragenic sequence determined mutations in ZIC2. Only 39/157 patients have previously been clinically described. Unlike HPE due to mutations in other genes, most mutations occur de novo and the distribution of HPE types differs significantly from that of non-ZIC2 related HPE. Evidence is presented for the presence of a novel facial phenotype which includes bitemporal narrowing, upslanting palpebral fissures, a short nose with anteverted nares, a broad and well demarcated philtrum, and large ears.HPE due to ZIC2 mutations is distinct from that due to mutations in other genes. This may shed light on the mechanisms involved in formation of the forebrain and face and will help direct genetic counselling and diagnostic strategies.
Project description:Mutations of the ZIC2 transcription factor gene are among the most common heterozygous variations detected in holoprosencephaly (HPE) patients, a patient group who lack critical midline forebrain specification due to defective embryonic signaling during development. Recent studies indicate that complete deficiency of the related murine Zic2 transcription factor can also be a contributing factor to variable midline deficiencies, presenting during mid-gastrulation, that could explain similar forebrain anomalies in this model system. Here we collect and summarize all available mutations in the human ZIC2 gene detected in HPE patients (21 published and 62 novel). Our analysis corroborates this mechanism proposed in mice by predicting loss-of-function as the likely pathogenetic mechanism common to most, if not all, of these mutations in HPE.
Project description:Rhombencephalosynapsis (RES) is a rare congenital brain malformation typically identified by magnetic resonance imaging and characterized by fusion of the cerebellar hemispheres and dentate nuclei and vermian agenesis or hypogenesis. Although RES is frequently found in conjunction with other brain malformations and/or congenital anomalies, no specific molecular etiology has been discovered to date and no animal models exist. We identified two half sisters with alobar or semi-lobar holoprosencephaly (HPE) and partial RES, suggesting that genes linked to HPE may also contribute to RES. A deletion of seven base pairs in exon one of the ZIC2 gene (c.392_98del7) was identified in each of the two half sisters with HPE and partial RES. To identify genetic causes of RES and to assess whether genes identified in HPE have a role in RES, we tested 11 additional individuals with RES by high-resolution chromosome analysis, chromosomal microarray analysis, and sequencing of four HPE genes. No mutations in ZIC2 or in other genes that cause HPE were identified, suggesting that mutation of ZIC2 is a rare cause of, or contributor to, RES associated with HPE. In addition, an individual with a complex rearrangement of chromosome 22q13.3 and RES was identified, suggesting the presence of a dosage-sensitive gene that may contribute to RES in this region.
Project description:One of the causal genes for holoprosencephaly (HPE) is ZIC2 (HPE5). It belongs to the zinc finger protein of the cerebellum (Zic) family of genes that share a C2H2-type zinc finger domain, similar to the GLI family of genes. In order to clarify the role of Zic2 in gene regulation, we searched for its direct target genes using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). We identified TGIF1 (HPE4), another holoprosencephaly-causative gene in humans. We identified Zic2-binding sites (ZBS) on the 5' flanking region of Tgif1 by in vitro DNA binding assays. ZBS were essential for Zic2-dependent transcriptional activation in reporter gene assays. Zic2 showed a higher affinity to ZBS than GLI-binding sequences. Zic2-binding to the cis-regulatory element near the Tgif1 promoter may be involved in the mechanism underlying forebrain development and incidences of HPE.
Project description:Left-right (L-R) asymmetry in the mouse embryo is generated in the node and is dependent on cilia-driven fluid flow, but how the initial asymmetry is transmitted from the node to the lateral plate has remained unknown. We have now identified a transcriptional enhancer (ANE) in the human LEFTY1 gene that exhibits marked L>R asymmetric activity in perinodal cells of the mouse embryo. Dissection of ANE revealed that it is activated in the perinodal cells on the left side by Nodal signaling, suggesting that Nodal activity in the node is asymmetric at a time when Nodal expression is symmetric. Phosphorylated Smad2/3 (pSmad2) indeed manifested an L-R asymmetric distribution at the node, being detected in perinodal cells preferentially on the left side. This asymmetry in pSmad2 distribution was found to be generated not by unidirectional transport of Nodal but rather as a result of L<R asymmetric expression of the Nodal antagonist Cerl2. For various mutant embryos examined, the asymmetry in pSmad2 distribution among the perinodal cells closely matched that in lateral plate mesoderm (LPM). However, autocrine-paracrine Nodal signaling in perinodal cells is dispensable for L-R patterning of LPM, given that its inhibition by expression of dominant negative forms of Smad3 or ALK4 was still associated with normal (left-sided) Nodal expression in LPM. Our results suggest that LPM is the direct target of Nodal secreted by the perinodal cells, and that an L>R distribution of active Nodal in the node is translated into the asymmetry in LPM.
Project description:In the mouse, the initial signals that establish left-right (LR) asymmetry are determined in the node by nodal flow. These signals are then transferred to the lateral plate mesoderm (LPM) through cellular and molecular mechanisms that are not well characterized. We hypothesized that endoderm might play a role in this process because it is tightly apposed to the node and covers the outer surface of the embryo, and, just after nodal flow is established, higher Ca(2+) flux has been reported on the left side near the node, most likely in the endoderm cells. Here we studied the role of endoderm cells in the transfer of the LR asymmetry signal by analyzing mouse Sox17 null mutant embryos, which possess endoderm-specific defects. Sox17(-/-) embryos showed no expression or significantly reduced expression of LR asymmetric genes in the left LPM. In Sox17 mutant endoderm, the localization of connexin proteins on the cell membrane was greatly reduced, resulting in defective gap junction formation, which appeared to be caused by incomplete development of organized epithelial structures. Our findings suggest an essential role of endoderm cells in the signal transfer step from the node to the LPM, possibly using gap junction communication to establish the LR axis of the mouse.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Holoprosencephaly is the most frequent congenital malformation of the forebrain in humans. It is anatomically classified by the relative degree of abnormal formation and separation of the developing central nervous system. Mutations of ZIC2 are the second most common heterozygous variations detected in holoprosencephaly (HPE) patients. Mutations in most known HPE genes typically result in variable phenotypes that rage from classic alobar HPE to microforms represented by hypotelorism, solitary central maxillary incisor (SCMI), and cleft lip/palate, among others. Patients with HPE owing to ZIC2 mutations have recently been described by a distinct phenotype compared with mutations in other HPE causative genes. METHODS:We report the comparison of ZIC2 molecular findings by Sanger bidirectional DNA sequencing and ad hoc genotyping in a cohort of 105 Brazilian patients within the clinical spectrum of HPE, including classic and microform groups. RESULTS:We detected a total of five variants in the ZIC2 gene: a common histidine tract expansion c.716_718dup (p.His239dup), a rare c.1377_1391del_homozygous (p.Ala466_470del, or Ala 15 to 10 contraction), a novel intronic c.1239+18G>A variant, a novel frameshift c.1215dupC (p.Ser406Glnfs*11), and a c.1401_1406dup (p.Ala469_470dup, or alanine tract expansion to 17 residues). CONCLUSIONS:From these patients, only the latter two mutations found in classic HPE are likely to be medically significant. In contrast, variants detected in the microform group are not likely to be pathogenic. We show conclusively that the histidine tract expansion is a polymorphic alteration that demonstrates considerable differences in allele frequencies across different ethnic groups. Therefore, careful population studies of rare variants can improve genotype-phenotype correlations. Birth Defects Research (Part A) 2012.