An RNAi screen unravels the complexities of Rho GTPase networks in skin morphogenesis.
ABSTRACT: During mammalian embryogenesis, extensive cellular remodeling is needed for tissue morphogenesis. As effectors of cytoskeletal dynamics, Rho GTPases and their regulators are likely involved, but their daunting complexity has hindered progress in dissecting their functions. We overcome this hurdle by employing high throughput in utero RNAi-mediated screening to identify key Rho regulators of skin morphogenesis. Our screen unveiled hitherto unrecognized roles for Rho-mediated cytoskeletal remodeling events that impact hair follicle specification, differentiation, downgrowth and planar cell polarity. Coupling our top hit with gain/loss-of-function genetics, interactome proteomics and tissue imaging, we show that RHOU, an atypical Rho, governs the cytoskeletal-junction dynamics that establish columnar shape and planar cell polarity in epidermal progenitors. Conversely, RHOU downregulation is required to remodel to a conical cellular shape that enables hair bud invagination and downgrowth. Our findings underscore the power of coupling screens with proteomics to unravel the physiological significance of complex gene families.
Project description:During embryogenesis, antagonism and synergy between developmental signaling pathways dictate cell fate decisions. How these circuits orchestrate the complex cellular remodeling needed for tissue morphogenesis remains poorly understood. As effectors of cytoskeletal dynamics, Rho GTPases and their regulators are likely to be involved. However, their daunting complexity has hindered progress in dissecting their functions. Here we overcome this hurdle by developing an unbiased, high throughput RNAi-mediated screening approach to identify physiological regulators of morphogenesis. Exploiting in utero lentiviral delivery methods to transduce embryonic mouse skin progenitors, we screened for Rho GTPases and GTPase regulators that differentially function in epidermal versus hair follicle development. Our screen unveiled hitherto unrecognized roles for specific family members in cytoskeletal remodeling events that impact these diverse morphogenetic processes, including epidermal differentiation, follicle downgrowth and planar cell polarity. Our findings underscore the power of our screening strategy for unravel the physiological significance of complex gene families. Overall design: Embryonic day 14.5 epidermal cell mRNA profiles from shScramble (control) and shRhou-505 transduced animals were generated by deep sequencing, in triplicate, using Illumina. Embryonic day 17.5 epidermal cell mRNA profiles from WNT intermediate epidermal, WNT high hair follicle and WNT low hair follicle cells were generated by deep sequencing, in duplicate, using Illumina. Differential expression was determined using a matrix of all samples (WNT Hi, Wnt Low, Epidermal).
Project description:Morphogenesis of sensory hair cells, in particular their mechanotransduction organelle, the stereociliary bundle, requires highly organized remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton. The roles of Rho family small GTPases during this process remain unknown. Here we show that deletion of Rac1 in the otic epithelium resulted in severe defects in cochlear epithelial morphogenesis. The mutant cochlea was severely shortened with a reduced number of auditory hair cells and cellular organization of the auditory sensory epithelium was abnormal. Rac1 mutant hair cells also displayed defects in planar cell polarity and morphogenesis of the stereociliary bundle, including bundle fragmentation or deformation, and mispositioning or absence of the kinocilium. We further demonstrate that a Rac-PAK (p21-activated kinase) signaling pathway mediates kinocilium-stereocilia interactions and is required for cohesion of the stereociliary bundle. Together, these results reveal a critical function of Rac1 in morphogenesis of the auditory sensory epithelium and stereociliary bundle.
Project description:The coordination of cell polarity within the plane of the tissue layer (planar polarity) is crucial for the development of diverse multicellular organisms. Small Rac/Rho-family GTPases and the actin cytoskeleton contribute to planar polarity formation at sites of polarity establishment in animals and plants. Yet, upstream pathways coordinating planar polarity differ strikingly between kingdoms. In the root of Arabidopsis thaliana, a concentration gradient of the phytohormone auxin coordinates polar recruitment of Rho-of-plant (ROP) to sites of polar epidermal hair initiation. However, little is known about cytoskeletal components and interactions that contribute to this planar polarity or about their relation to the patterning machinery. Here, we show that ACTIN7 (ACT7) represents a main actin isoform required for planar polarity of root hair positioning, interacting with the negative modulator ACTIN-INTERACTING PROTEIN1-2 (AIP1-2). ACT7, AIP1-2 and their genetic interaction are required for coordinated planar polarity of ROP downstream of ethylene signalling. Strikingly, AIP1-2 displays hair cell file-enriched expression, restricted by WEREWOLF (WER)-dependent patterning and modified by ethylene and auxin action. Hence, our findings reveal AIP1-2, expressed under control of the WER-dependent patterning machinery and the ethylene signalling pathway, as a modulator of actin-mediated planar polarity.
Project description:Hair cells of the organ of Corti (OC) of the cochlea exhibit distinct planar polarity, both at the tissue and cellular level. Planar polarity at tissue level is manifested as uniform orientation of the hair cell stereociliary bundles. Hair cell intrinsic polarity is defined as structural hair bundle asymmetry; positioning of the kinocilium/basal body complex at the vertex of the V-shaped bundle. Consistent with strong apical polarity, the hair cell apex displays prominent actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. The Rho GTPase Cdc42 regulates cytoskeletal dynamics and polarization of various cell types, and, thus, serves as a candidate regulator of hair cell polarity. We have here induced Cdc42 inactivation in the late-embryonic OC. We show the role of Cdc42 in the establishment of planar polarity of hair cells and in cellular patterning. Abnormal planar polarity was displayed as disturbances in hair bundle orientation and morphology and in kinocilium/basal body positioning. These defects were accompanied by a disorganized cell-surface microtubule network. Atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), a putative Cdc42 effector, colocalized with Cdc42 at the hair cell apex, and aPKC expression was altered upon Cdc42 depletion. Our data suggest that Cdc42 together with aPKC is part of the machinery establishing hair cell planar polarity and that Cdc42 acts on polarity through the cell-surface microtubule network. The data also suggest that defects in apical polarization are influenced by disturbed cellular patterning in the OC. In addition, our data demonstrates that Cdc42 is required for stereociliogenesis in the immature cochlea.
Project description:The cuticular hairs and sensory bristles that decorate the adult Drosophila epidermis and the denticles found on the embryo have been used in studies on planar cell polarity and as models for the cytoskeletal mediated morphogenesis of cellular extensions. ZP domain proteins have recently been found to be important for the morphogenesis of both denticles and bristles. Here we show that the ZP domain protein Dusky-like is a key player in hair morphogenesis. As is the case in bristles, in hairs dyl mutants display a dramatic phenotype that is the consequence of a failure to maintain the integrity of the extension after outgrowth. Hairs lacking dyl function are split, thinned, multipled and often very short. dyl is required for normal chitin deposition in hairs, but chitin is not required for the normal accumulation of Dyl, hence dyl acts upstream of chitin. A lack of chitin however, does not mimic the dyl hair phenotype, thus Dyl must have other targets in hair morphogenesis. One of these appears to be the actin cytoskeleton. Interestingly, dyl mutants also display a unique planar cell polarity phenotype that is distinct from that seen with mutations in the frizzled/starry night or dachsous/fat pathway genes. Rab11 was previously found to be essential for Dyl plasma membrane localization in bristles. Here we found that the expression of a dominant negative Rab11 can mimic the dyl hair morphology phenotype consistent with Rab11 also being required for Dyl function in hairs. We carried out a small directed screen to identify genes that might function with dyl and identified Chitinase 6 (Cht6) as a strong candidate, as knocking down Cht6 function led to weak versions of all of the dyl hair phenotypes.
Project description:STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) is a transcription factor activated by cytokines, growth factors and oncogenes, whose activity is required for cell survival/proliferation of a wide variety of primary tumours and tumour cell lines. Prominent among its multiple effects on tumour cells is the stimulation of cell migration and metastasis, whose functional mechanisms are however not completely characterized. RhoU/Wrch1 (Wnt-responsive Cdc42 homologue) is an atypical Rho GTPase thought to be constitutively bound to GTP. RhoU was first identified as a Wnt-1-inducible mRNA and subsequently shown to act on the actin cytoskeleton by stimulating filopodia formation and stress fibre dissolution. It was in addition recently shown to localize to focal adhesions and to Src-induced podosomes and enhance cell migration. RhoU overexpression in mammary epithelial cells stimulates quiescent cells to re-enter the cell cycle and morphologically phenocopies Wnt-1-dependent transformation. In the present study we show that Wnt-1-mediated RhoU induction occurs at the transcriptional level. Moreover, we demonstrate that RhoU can also be induced by gp130 cytokines via STAT3, and we identify two functional STAT3-binding sites on the mouse RhoU promoter. RhoU induction by Wnt-1 is independent of beta-catenin, but does not involve STAT3. Rather, it is mediated by the Wnt/planar cell polarity pathway through the activation of JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase). Both the so-called non-canonical Wnt pathway and STAT3 are therefore able to induce RhoU, which in turn may be involved in mediating their effects on cell migration.
Project description:In the inner ear sensory epithelia, stereociliary hair bundles atop sensory hair cells are mechanosensory apparatus with planar polarized structure and orientation. This is established during development by the concerted action of tissue-level, intercellular planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling and a hair cell-intrinsic, microtubule-mediated machinery. However, how various polarity signals are integrated during hair bundle morphogenesis is poorly understood. Here, we show that the conserved cell polarity protein Par3 is essential for planar polarization of hair cells. Par3 deletion in the inner ear disrupted cochlear outgrowth, hair bundle orientation, kinocilium positioning, and basal body planar polarity, accompanied by defects in the organization and cortical attachment of hair cell microtubules. Genetic mosaic analysis revealed that Par3 functions both cell-autonomously and cell-nonautonomously to regulate kinocilium positioning and hair bundle orientation. At the tissue level, intercellular PCP signaling regulates the asymmetric localization of Par3, which in turn maintains the asymmetric localization of the core PCP protein Vangl2. Mechanistically, Par3 interacts with and regulates the localization of Tiam1 and Trio, which are guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for Rac, thereby stimulating Rac-Pak signaling. Finally, constitutively active Rac1 rescued the PCP defects in Par3-deficient cochleae. Thus, a Par3-GEF-Rac axis mediates both tissue-level and hair cell-intrinsic PCP signaling.
Project description:The vertebrate heart undergoes early complex morphologic events in order to develop key cardiac structures that regulate its overall function (Fahed et al., 2013). Although many genetic factors that participate in patterning the heart have been elucidated (Tu and Chi, 2012), the cellular events that drive cardiac morphogenesis have been less clear. From a chemical genetic screen to identify cellular pathways that control cardiac morphogenesis in zebrafish, we observed that inhibition of the Rho signaling pathways resulted in failure to form the atrioventricular canal and loop the linear heart tube. To identify specific Rho proteins that may regulate this process, we analyzed cardiac expression profiling data and discovered that RhoU was expressed at the atrioventricular canal during the time when it forms. Loss of RhoU function recapitulated the atrioventricular canal and cardiac looping defects observed in the ROCK inhibitor treated zebrafish. Similar to its family member RhoV/Chp (Tay et al., 2010), we discovered that RhoU regulates the cell junctions between cardiomyocytes through the Arhgef7b/Pak kinase pathway in order to guide atrioventricular canal development and cardiac looping. Inhibition of this pathway resulted in similar underlying cardiac defects and conversely, overexpression of a PAK kinase was able to rescue the loss of RhoU cardiac defect. Finally, we found that Wnt signaling, which has been implicated in atrioventricular canal development (Verhoeven et al., 2011), may regulate the expression of RhoU at the atrioventricular canal. Overall, these findings reveal a cardiac developmental pathway involving RhoU/Arhgef7b/Pak signaling, which helps coordinate cell junction formation between atrioventricular cardiomyocytes to promote cell adhesiveness and cell shapes during cardiac morphogenesis. Failure to properly form these cell adhesions during cardiac development may lead to structural heart defects and mechanistically account for the cellular events that occur in certain human congenital heart diseases.
Project description:The restoration of planar cell polarity is an essential but poorly understood step toward physiological recovery during sensory-organ regeneration. Investigating this issue in the lateral line of the zebrafish, we found that hair cells regenerate in pairs along a single axis established by the restricted localization and oriented division of their progenitors. By analyzing mutants lacking the planar-polarity determinant Vangl2, we ascertained that the uniaxial production of hair cells and the subsequent orientation of their hair bundles are controlled by distinct pathways, whose combination underlies the establishment of hair-cell orientation during development and regeneration. This mechanism may represent a general principle governing the long-term maintenance of planar cell polarity in remodeling epithelia.
Project description:Organ morphogenesis is a complex process coordinated by cell specification, epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and tissue polarity. A striking example is the pattern of regularly spaced, globally aligned mammalian hair follicles, which emerges through epidermal-dermal signaling and planar polarized morphogenesis. Here, using live-imaging, we discover that developing hair follicles polarize through dramatic cell rearrangements organized in a counter-rotational pattern of cell flows. Upon hair placode induction, Shh signaling specifies a radial pattern of progenitor fates that, together with planar cell polarity, induce counter-rotational rearrangements through myosin and ROCK-dependent polarized neighbour exchanges. Importantly, these cell rearrangements also establish cell fate asymmetry by repositioning radial progenitors along the anterior-posterior axis. These movements concurrently displace associated mesenchymal cells, which then signal asymmetrically to maintain polarized cell fates. Our results demonstrate how spatial patterning and tissue polarity generate an unexpected collective cell behaviour that in turn, establishes both morphological and cell fate asymmetry.