CDK1 and CDK2 regulate NICD1 turnover and the periodicity of the segmentation clock.
ABSTRACT: All vertebrates share a segmented body axis. Segments form from the rostral end of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) with a periodicity that is regulated by the segmentation clock. The segmentation clock is a molecular oscillator that exhibits dynamic clock gene expression across the PSM with a periodicity that matches somite formation. Notch signalling is crucial to this process. Altering Notch intracellular domain (NICD) stability affects both the clock period and somite size. However, the mechanism by which NICD stability is regulated in this context is unclear. We identified a highly conserved site crucial for NICD recognition by the SCF E3 ligase, which targets NICD for degradation. We demonstrate both CDK1 and CDK2 can phosphorylate NICD in the domain where this crucial residue lies and that NICD levels vary in a cell cycle-dependent manner. Inhibiting CDK1 or CDK2 activity increases NICD levels both in vitro and in vivo, leading to a delay of clock gene oscillations and an increase in somite size.
Project description:All vertebrates share a segmented body axis. Segments form from the rostral end of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) with a periodicity that is regulated by the segmentation clock. The segmentation clock is a molecular oscillator that exhibits dynamic clock gene expression across the PSM with a periodicity that matches somite formation. Notch signalling is crucial to this process. Altering Notch intracellular domain (NICD) stability affects both the clock period and somite size. However, the mechanism by which NICD stability is regulated in this context is unclear. We identified a highly conserved site crucial for NICD recognition by the SCF E3 ligase, which targets NICD for degradation. We demonstrate both CDK1 and CDK2 can phosphorylate NICD in the domain where this crucial residue lies and that NICD levels vary in a cell cycle-dependent manner. Inhibiting CDK1 or CDK2 activity increases NICD levels both in vitro and in vivo, leading to a delay of clock gene oscillations and an increase in somite size.
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: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:During somitogenesis, epithelial somites form from the pre-somitic mesoderm (PSM) in a periodic manner. This periodicity is regulated by a molecular oscillator, known as the 'segmentation clock', that is characterised by an oscillatory pattern of gene expression that sweeps the PSM in a caudal-rostral direction. Key components of the segmentation clock are intracellular components of the Notch, Wnt and FGF pathways, and it is widely accepted that intracellular negative-feedback loops regulate oscillatory gene expression. However, an open question in the field is how intracellular oscillations are coordinated, in the form of spatiotemporal waves of expression, across the PSM. In this study, we provide a potential mechanism for this process. We show at the mRNA level that the Notch1 receptor and Delta-like 1 (Dll1) ligand vary dynamically across the PSM of both chick and mouse. Remarkably, we also demonstrate similar dynamics at the protein level; hence, the pathway components that mediate intercellular coupling themselves exhibit oscillatory dynamics. Moreover, we quantify the dynamic expression patterns of Dll1 and Notch1, and show they are highly correlated with the expression patterns of two known clock components [Lfng mRNA and the activated form of the Notch receptor (cleaved Notch intracellular domain, NICD)]. Lastly, we show that Notch1 is a target of Notch signalling, whereas Dll1 is Wnt regulated. Regulation of Dll1 and Notch1 expression thus links the activity of Wnt and Notch, the two main signalling pathways driving the clock.
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:Somite segmentation depends on a gene expression oscillator or clock in the posterior presomitic mesoderm (PSM) and on read-out machinery in the anterior PSM to convert the pattern of clock phases into a somite pattern. Notch pathway mutations disrupt somitogenesis, and previous studies have suggested that Notch signalling is required both for the oscillations and for the read-out mechanism. By blocking or overactivating the Notch pathway abruptly at different times, we show that Notch signalling has no essential function in the anterior PSM and is required only in the posterior PSM, where it keeps the oscillations of neighbouring cells synchronized. Using a GFP reporter for the oscillator gene her1, we measure the influence of Notch signalling on her1 expression and show by mathematical modelling that this is sufficient for synchronization. Our model, in which intracellular oscillations are generated by delayed autoinhibition of her1 and her7 and synchronized by Notch signalling, explains the observations fully, showing that there are no grounds to invoke any additional role for the Notch pathway in the patterning of somite boundaries in zebrafish.
Project description:Fibronectin is essential for somite formation in the vertebrate embryo. Fibronectin matrix assembly starts as cells emerge from the primitive streak and ingress in the unsegmented presomitic mesoderm (PSM). PSM cells undergo cyclic waves of segmentation clock gene expression, followed by Notch-dependent upregulation of <i>meso1</i> in the rostral PSM which induces somite cleft formation. However, the relevance of the fibronectin matrix for these molecular processes remains unknown. Here, we assessed the role of the PSM fibronectin matrix in the spatio-temporal regulation of chick embryo somitogenesis by perturbing (1) extracellular fibronectin matrix assembly, (2) integrin-fibronectin binding, (3) Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) activity and (4) non-muscle myosin II (NM II) function. We found that integrin-fibronectin engagement and NM II activity are required for cell polarization in the nascent somite. All treatments resulted in defective somitic clefts and significantly perturbed <i>meso1</i> and segmentation clock gene expression in the PSM. Importantly, inhibition of actomyosin-mediated contractility increased the period of <i>hairy1/hes4</i> oscillations from 90 to 120 min. Together, our work strongly suggests that the fibronectin-integrin-ROCK-NM II axis regulates segmentation clock dynamics and dictates the spatio-temporal localization of somitic clefts.
Project description:Somite formation in the early stage of vertebrate embryonic development is controlled by a complicated gene network named segmentation clock, which is defined by the periodic expression of genes related to the Notch, Wnt, and the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathways. Although in recent years some findings about crosstalk among the Notch, Wnt, and FGF pathways in somitogenesis have been reported, the investigation of their crosstalk mechanisms from a systematic point of view is still lacking. In this study, a more comprehensive mathematical model was proposed to simulate the dynamics of the Notch, Wnt, and FGF pathways in the segmentation clock. Simulations and bifurcation analyses of this model suggested that the concentration gradients of both Wnt, and FGF signals along the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) are corresponding to the whole process from start to stop of the segmentation clock. A number of highly sensitive parameters to the segmentation clock's oscillatory pattern were identified. By further bifurcation analyses for these sensitive parameters, and several complementary mechanisms in respect of the maintenance of the stable oscillation of the segmentation clock were revealed.
Project description:The segmental organization of the vertebral column is established early in embryogenesis, when pairs of somites are rhythmically produced by the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). The tempo of somite formation is controlled by a molecular oscillator known as the segmentation clock1,2. Although this oscillator has been well-characterized in model organisms1,2, whether a similar oscillator exists in humans remains unknown. Genetic analyses of patients with severe spine segmentation defects have implicated several human orthologues of cyclic genes that are associated with the mouse segmentation clock, suggesting that this oscillator might be conserved in humans3. Here we show that human PSM cells derived in vitro-as well as those of the mouse4-recapitulate the oscillations of the segmentation clock. Human PSM cells oscillate with a period two times longer than that of mouse cells (5 h versus 2.5 h), but are similarly regulated by FGF, WNT, Notch and YAP signalling5. Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals that mouse and human PSM cells in vitro follow a developmental trajectory similar to that of mouse PSM in vivo. Furthermore, we demonstrate that FGF signalling controls the phase and period of oscillations, expanding the role of this pathway beyond its classical interpretation in 'clock and wavefront' models1. Our work identifying the human segmentation clock represents an important milestone in understanding human developmental biology.
Project description:Somitogenesis, the formation of the body's primary segmental structure common to all vertebrate development, requires coordination between biological mechanisms at several scales. Explaining how these mechanisms interact across scales and how events are coordinated in space and time is necessary for a complete understanding of somitogenesis and its evolutionary flexibility. So far, mechanisms of somitogenesis have been studied independently. To test the consistency, integrability and combined explanatory power of current prevailing hypotheses, we built an integrated clock-and-wavefront model including submodels of the intracellular segmentation clock, intercellular segmentation-clock coupling via Delta/Notch signaling, an FGF8 determination front, delayed differentiation, clock-wavefront readout, and differential-cell-cell-adhesion-driven cell sorting. We identify inconsistencies between existing submodels and gaps in the current understanding of somitogenesis mechanisms, and propose novel submodels and extensions of existing submodels where necessary. For reasonable initial conditions, 2D simulations of our model robustly generate spatially and temporally regular somites, realistic dynamic morphologies and spontaneous emergence of anterior-traveling stripes of Lfng. We show that these traveling stripes are pseudo-waves rather than true propagating waves. Our model is flexible enough to generate interspecies-like variation in somite size in response to changes in the PSM growth rate and segmentation-clock period, and in the number and width of Lfng stripes in response to changes in the PSM growth rate, segmentation-clock period and PSM length.