ABSTRACT: PAX6 is essential for neural retina (NR) and forebrain development but how PAX6 instructs NR versus forebrain specification remains unknown. We found that the paired-less PAX6, PAX6D, is expressed in NR cells during human eye development and along human embryonic stem cell (hESC) specification to retinal cells. hESCs deficient for PAX6D failed to enter NR specification. Induced expression of PAX6D but not PAX6A in a PAX6-null background restored the NR specification capacity. ChIP-Seq, confirmed by functional assays, revealed a set of retinal genes and non-retinal neural genes that are potential targets of PAX6D, including WNT8B. Inhibition of WNTs or knocking down of WNT8B restored the NR specification capacity of neuroepithelia with PAX6D knockout whereas activation of WNTs blocked NR specification even when PAX6D was induced. Thus, PAX6D specifies neuroepithelia to NR cells via regulation of WNT8B.
Project description:The transcriptional regulation of neuroectoderm (NE) specification is unknown. Here we show that Pax6 is uniformly expressed in early NE cells of human fetuses and those differentiated from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). This is in contrast to the later expression of Pax6 in restricted mouse brain regions. Knockdown of Pax6 blocks NE specification from hESCs. Overexpression of either Pax6a or Pax6b, but not Pax6triangle upPD, triggers hESC differentiation. However, only Pax6a converts hESCs to NE. In contrast, neither loss nor gain of function of Pax6 affects mouse NE specification. Both Pax6a and Pax6b bind to pluripotent gene promoters but only Pax6a binds to NE genes during human NE specification. These findings indicate that Pax6 is a transcriptional determinant of the human NE and suggest that Pax6a and Pax6b coordinate with each other in determining the transition from pluripotency to the NE fate in human by differentially targeting pluripotent and NE genes.
Project description:Wnt signalling proteins regulate many aspects of animal development. We have investigated the function of mouse Wnt8b during forebrain development. Wnt8b is expressed in a highly restricted pattern including the prospective hippocampus and hypothalamus. Mutant mice lacking Wnt8b are viable and healthy. The size and morphology of the hippocampus appeared normal in mutant embryos and adults, and we found no evidence of hypothalamic defects in mutants. Wnt8b is also expressed in the neurogenic region of the adult dentate gyrus, however, cell proliferation was unchanged in Wnt8b(-/-) mutants. Mutant embryos did, however, display altered levels of expression of other Wnt genes normally expressed in forebrain. The spatial expression patterns of other Wnt genes and the overall level of canonical Wnt activity were indistinguishable from wild-types. Thus, loss of Wnt8b does not give rise to an overt morphological phenotype, but does affect expression levels of other Wnts in developing forebrain.
Project description:Retinal degeneration causes vision impairment and blindness in humans. If one day we are to harness the potential of stem cell-based cell replacement therapies to treat these conditions, it is imperative that we better understand normal retina development. Currently, the genes and mechanisms that regulate the specification of the neuroretina during vertebrate eye development remain unknown. Here, we identify sine oculis-related homeobox 3 (Six3) as a crucial player in this process in mice. In Six3 conditional-mutant mouse embryos, specification of the neuroretina was abrogated, but that of the retinal pigmented epithelium was normal. Conditional deletion of Six3 did not affect the initial development of the optic vesicle but did arrest subsequent neuroretina specification. Ectopic rostral expansion of Wnt8b expression was the major response to Six3 deletion and the leading cause for the specific lack of neuroretina, as ectopic Wnt8b expression in transgenic embryos was sufficient to suppress neuroretina specification. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we identified Six3-responsive elements in the Wnt8b locus and demonstrated that Six3 directly repressed Wnt8b expression in vivo. Our findings provide a molecular framework to the program leading to neuroretina differentiation and may be relevant for the development of novel strategies aimed at characterizing and eventually treating different abnormalities in eye formation.
Project description:Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling and PAX6 transcription are required for neuroectoderm specification of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). In this study, we asked how FGF signaling leads to PAX6 transcription and neuroectoderm specification from hESCs. Under a chemically defined medium, FGF inhibition blocked phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2) with a significant reduction of PAX6-expressing neuroepithelia, indicating that FGF regulates neural induction through ERK1/2 activation. Activation of FGF-ERK1/2 pathway was necessary for the activity of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), a conserved nuclear protein catalyzing polymerization of ADP-ribose units. Pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation of PARP-1 inhibited neural induction from hESCs, suggesting that FGF-ERK1/2 signal pathway regulates neuroectoderm specification through regulating PARP-1 activity. Furthermore, FGF-ERK1/2-PARP-1 cascade regulated the expression of PAX6, a transcription determinant of human neuroectoderm. Together, we propose that FGF regulates hESC neural specification through the ERK1/2-PARP-1 signaling pathway.
Project description:During regional patterning of the anterior neural plate, a medially positioned domain of cells is specified to adopt retinal identity. These eye field cells remain coherent as they undergo morphogenetic events distinct from other prospective forebrain domains. We show that two branches of the Wnt signaling pathway coordinate cell fate determination with cell behavior during eye field formation. Wnt/beta-catenin signaling antagonizes eye specification through the activity of Wnt8b and Fz8a. In contrast, Wnt11 and Fz5 promote eye field development, at least in part, through local antagonism of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. Additionally, Wnt11 regulates the behavior of eye field cells, promoting their cohesion. Together, these results allow us to postulate a model in which Wnt11 and Fz5 signaling promotes early eye development through the coordinated antagonism of signals that suppress retinal identity and promotion of coherence of eye field cells.
Project description:Neuroretina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) are differentiated from the progenitors in optic vesicles, but it is unclear when and how the two lineages are segregated. Manipulation of chick embryos reveals that the early anteroventral optic vesicle is crucial for neuroretinal development, but the molecular mechanism is unclear. Homeodomain transcription factor Six3 is required for neuroretinal specification and is dispensable for RPE formation, but the cell fates of Six3-deficient progenitors and the origins of remnant RPE are unknown. Here, we performed lineage tracing of Six3-Cre positive cells in wild-type and Six3-deficient mouse embryos. Six3-Cre positive progenies were found in a population of progenitors in the anteroventral optic pits/vesicles starting at E8.5, and were found in neuroretina, optic stalk, ventral forebrain, but not RPE, at E10.5. Six3-deletion in the small population of progenitors at E8.5 was sufficient to cause rostral expansion of Wnt8b and drastic reduction of Fgf8/MAPK signaling, ablating neuroretinal specification without affecting RPE. Lineage tracing revealed Six3-deficient progenitors at E8.5 were eventually lost and the remnant RPE was derived from Six3-Cre negative cells. Thus, Six3 in a small population of progenitors expressing Six3-Cre at E8.5 is required for neuroretinal specification via regulating cell signaling and survival in mice.
Project description:During development, the mechanisms that specify neuronal subclasses are coupled to those that determine their axonal response to guidance cues. Pax6 is a homedomain transcription factor required for the specification of a variety of neural precursors. After cell cycle exit, Pax6 expression is often shut down in the precursor progeny and most postmitotic neurons no longer express detectable levels of the protein. There are however exceptions and high Pax6 protein levels are found, for example, in postmitotic retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), dopaminergic neurons of the olfactory bulb and the limbic system in the telencephalon. The function of Pax6 in these differentiating neurons remains mostly elusive. Here, we demonstrate that Pax6 mediates the response of growing axons to SFRP1, a secreted molecule expressed in several Pax6-positive forebrain territories. Forced expression of Pax6 in cultured postmitotic cortical neurons, which do not normally express Pax6, was sufficient to increment axonal length. Growth was blocked by the addition of anti-SFRP1 antibodies, whereas exogenously added SFRP1 increased axonal growth of Pax6-transfected neurons but not that of control or untransfected cortical neurons. In the reverse scenario, shRNA-mediated knock-down of Pax6 in mouse retinal explants specifically abolished RGCs axonal growth induced by SFRP1, but had no effect on RGCs differentiation and it did not modify the effect of Shh or Netrin on axon growth. Taken together these results demonstrate that expression of Pax6 is necessary and sufficient to render postmitotic neurons competent to respond to SFRP1. These results reveal a novel and unexpected function of Pax6 in postmitotic neurons and situate Pax6 and SFRP1 as pair regulators of axonal connectivity.
Project description:The transcription factor Pax6 is comprised of the paired domain (PD) and homeodomain (HD). In the developing forebrain, Pax6 is expressed in ventricular zone precursor cells and in specific subpopulations of neurons; absence of Pax6 results in disrupted cell proliferation and cell fate specification. Pax6 also regulates the entire lens developmental program. To reconstruct Pax6-dependent gene regulatory networks (GRNs), ChIP-seq studies were performed using forebrain and lens chromatin from mice. A total of 3514 (forebrain) and 3723 (lens) Pax6-containing peaks were identified, with ?70% of them found in both tissues and thereafter called 'common' peaks. Analysis of Pax6-bound peaks identified motifs that closely resemble Pax6-PD, Pax6-PD/HD and Pax6-HD established binding sequences. Mapping of H3K4me1, H3K4me3, H3K27ac, H3K27me3 and RNA polymerase II revealed distinct types of tissue-specific enhancers bound by Pax6. Pax6 directly regulates cortical neurogenesis through activation (e.g. Dmrta1 and Ngn2) and repression (e.g. Ascl1, Fezf2, and Gsx2) of transcription factors. In lens, Pax6 directly regulates cell cycle exit via components of FGF (Fgfr2, Prox1 and Ccnd1) and Wnt (Dkk3, Wnt7a, Lrp6, Bcl9l, and Ccnd1) signaling pathways. Collectively, these studies provide genome-wide analysis of Pax6-dependent GRNs in lens and forebrain and establish novel roles of Pax6 in organogenesis.
Project description:Intra-retinal axon guidance involves a coordinated expression of transcription factors, axon guidance genes, and secretory molecules within the retina. Pax6, the master regulator gene, has a spatio-temporal expression typically restricted till neurogenesis and fate-specification. However, our observation of persistent expression of Pax6 in mature RGCs led us to hypothesize that Pax6 could play a major role in axon guidance after fate specification. Here, we found significant alteration in intra-retinal axon guidance and fasciculation upon knocking out of Pax6 in E15.5 retina. Through unbiased transcriptome profiling between Pax6fl/fl and Pax6-/- retinas, we revealed the mechanistic insight of its role in axon guidance. Our results showed a significant increase in the expression of extracellular matrix molecules and decreased expression of retinal fate specification and neuron projection guidance molecules. Additionally, we found that EphB1 and Sema5B are directly regulated by Pax6 owing to the guidance defects and improper fasciculation of axons. We conclude that Pax6 expression post fate specification of RGCs is necessary for regulating the expression of axon guidance genes and most importantly for maintaining a conducive ECM through which the nascent axons get guided and fasciculate to reach the optic disc.
Project description:To gain insights into the cellular mechanisms of neurogenesis, we analyzed retinal neuroepithelia deficient for Llgl1, a protein implicated in apicobasal cell polarity, asymmetric cell division, cell shape and cell cycle exit. We found that vertebrate retinal neuroepithelia deficient for Llgl1 retained overt apicobasal polarity, but had expanded apical domains. Llgl1 retinal progenitors also had increased Notch activity and reduced rates of neurogenesis. Blocking Notch function by depleting Rbpj restored normal neurogenesis. Experimental expansion of the apical domain, through inhibition of Shroom3, also increased Notch activity and reduced neurogenesis. Significantly, in wild-type retina, neurogenic retinal progenitors had smaller apical domains compared with proliferative neuroepithelia. As nuclear position during interkinetic nuclear migration (IKNM) has been previously linked with cell cycle exit, we analyzed this phenomenon in cells depleted of Llgl1. We found that although IKNM was normal, the relationship between nuclear position and neurogenesis was shifted away from the apical surface, consistent with increased pro-proliferative and/or anti-neurogenic signals associated with the apical domain. These data, in conjunction with other findings, suggest that, in retinal neuroepithelia, the size of the apical domain modulates the strength of polarized signals that influence neurogenesis.