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We show that mouse embryonic endothelial progenitor cells (eEPCs) home preferentially to hypoxic lung metastases when administered intravenously. This specificity is inversely related to the degree of perfusion and vascular density in the metastasis and directly related to local levels of hypoxia and VEGF. Ex vivo expanded eEPCs that were genetically modified with a suicide gene specifically and efficiently eradicated lung metastases with scant patent blood vessels. eEPCs do not express MHC I proteins, are resistant to natural killer cell-mediated cytolysis, and can contribute to tumor vessel formation also in nonsyngeneic mice. These results indicate that eEPCs can be used in an allogeneic setting to treat hypoxic metastases that are known to be resistant to conventional therapeutic regimes.
Patency of the fetal ductus arteriosus (DA) is maintained in an environment of low relative oxygen tension and a preponderance of vasodilating forces. In addition to prostaglandins, nitric oxide (NO), a potent vasodilator in the pulmonary and systemic vasculatures, has been implicated in regulation of the fetal DA. To further define the contribution of NO to DA patency, the expression and function of NO synthase (NOS) isoforms were examined in the mouse DA on days 17-19 of pregnancy and after birth. Our results show that endothelial NOS (eNOS) is the predominant isoform expressed in the mouse DA and is localized in the DA endothelium by in situ hybridization. Despite rapid constriction of the DA after birth, eNOS expression levels were unchanged throughout the fetal and postnatal period. Pharmacological inhibition of prostaglandin vs. NO synthesis in vivo showed that the preterm fetal DA on day 16 is more sensitive to NOS inhibition than the mature fetal DA on day 19, whereas prostaglandin inhibition results in marked DA constriction on day 19 but minimal effects on the day 16 DA. Combined prostaglandin and NO inhibition caused additional DA constriction on day 16. The contribution of vasa vasorum to DA regulation was also examined. Immunoreactive platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule and lacZ tagged FLK1 localized to DA endothelial cells but revealed the absence of vasa vasorum within the DA wall. Similarly, there was no evidence of vasa vasorum by vascular casting. These studies indicate that eNOS is the primary source of NO in the mouse DA and that vasomotor tone of the preterm fetal mouse DA is regulated by eNOS-derived NO and is potentiated by prostaglandins. In contrast to other species, mechanisms for DA patency and closure appear to be independent of any contribution of the vasa vasorum.
Endonuclease G (EndoG) is a nuclear-encoded mitochondrial protein reported to be important for both nuclear DNA fragmentation during apoptosis and mitochondrial DNA replication. To evaluate the in vivo function of EndoG, we have investigated the effects of EndoG deficiency in cells and mice. We found that EndoG homozygous mutant embryos die between embryonic days 2.5 and 3.5. Mitochondrial DNA copy numbers in ovulated oocytes from EndoG heterozygous mutant and wild-type mice are similar, suggesting that EndoG is involved in a cellular function unrelated to mitochondrial DNA replication. Interestingly, we found that cells from EndoG heterozygous mutant mice exhibit increased resistance to both tumor necrosis factor alpha- and staurosporine-induced cell death. Moreover, spontaneous cell death of spermatogonia in EndoG heterozygous mutant mice is significantly reduced compared with wild-type mice. DNA fragmentation is also reduced in EndoG+/- thymocytes and splenocytes compared with wild-type cells, as well as in EndoG+/- thymus in vivo compared with that of the wild-type mice, on activation of apoptosis. These findings indicate that EndoG is essential during early embryogenesis and plays a critical role in normal apoptosis and nuclear DNA fragmentation.
To define genetic pathways that regulate development of the endocrine pancreas, we generated transcriptional profiles of enriched cells isolated from four biologically significant stages of endocrine pancreas development: endoderm before pancreas specification, early pancreatic progenitor cells, endocrine progenitor cells and adult islets of Langerhans. These analyses implicate new signaling pathways in endocrine pancreas development, and identified sets of known and novel genes that are temporally regulated, as well as genes that spatially define developing endocrine cells from their neighbors. The differential expression of several genes from each time point was verified by RT-PCR and in situ hybridization. Moreover, we present preliminary functional evidence suggesting that one transcription factor encoding gene (Myt1), which was identified in our screen, is expressed in endocrine progenitors and may regulate alpha, beta and delta cell development. In addition to identifying new genes that regulate endocrine cell fate, this global gene expression analysis has uncovered informative biological trends that occur during endocrine differentiation.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - The protein expression and interactions of the ErbB receptors were examined in different liver proliferation models in vivo and in vitro, including ontogeny and regeneration following partial hepatectomy.
METHODS - Expression and tyrosine phosphorylation status of specific ErbB proteins were studied by immunologic methods.
RESULTS - The epidermal growth factor receptor, ErbB2, and ErbB3 were the only ErbB proteins detected in the liver parenchyma on embryonic day 19. ErbB2 disappeared by the third week after birth and could not be appreciably induced in the adult animal by partial hepatectomy. ErbB2 was also detected in multipotent stem (RLE) and hepatoma (H4IIe) cell lines as well as in fetal, but not adult, hepatocyte cultures. Only epidermal growth factor receptor and ErbB3 were detected in adult liver, and both showed circadian variation in protein expression. ErbB4 was not detected in any model. Patterns of ligand-induced ErbB phosphorylation differed between fetal and adult hepatocytes.
CONCLUSIONS - Complex and independent programs regulate the ErbB receptors, with implications for differential cell signaling in hepatic development and regeneration.
Nitric oxide (NO), produced by NO synthase (NOS), plays a critical role in multiple processes in the lung during the perinatal period. To better understand the regulation of pulmonary NO production in the developing primate, we determined the cell specificity and developmental changes in NOS isoform expression and action in the lungs of third-trimester fetal baboons. Immunohistochemistry in lungs obtained at 175 days (d) of gestation (term = 185 d) revealed that all three NOS isoforms, neuronal NOS (nNOS), endothelial NOS (eNOS), and inducible NOS (iNOS), are primarily expressed in proximal airway epithelium. In proximal lung, there was a marked increase in total NOS enzymatic activity from 125 to 140 d gestation due to elevations in nNOS and eNOS, whereas iNOS expression and activity were minimal. Total NOS activity was constant from 140 to 175 d gestation, and during the latter stage (160-175 d gestation), a dramatic fall in nNOS and eNOS was replaced by a rise in iNOS. Studies done within 1 h of delivery at 125 or 140 d gestation revealed that the principal increase in NOS during the third trimester is associated with an elevation in exhaled NO levels, a decline in expiratory resistance, and greater pulmonary compliance. Thus, there are developmental increases in pulmonary NOS expression and NO production during the early third trimester in the primate that may enhance airway and parenchymal function in the immediate postnatal period.
Ectopia of the initial ureter is the first ontogenic mis-step that leads to many congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). The ectopia results in hypoplastic kidney, ectopia of the ureteral orifice, urinary outflow obstruction and/or reflux. Recent studies on several mutant mouse models verified that ectopic ureteral budding indeed occurs prior to the formation of CAKUT. Often, the genes involved in navigating the site of ureteral budding also regulate later ontogenic processes of the kidney and other urinary tract systems. These additional functions of the genes underlie the wide spectrum of CAKUT, as the genes are expressed at multiple sites at multiple ontogenic stages, and regulate the morphogenesis of the many portions of the excretory system through their distinctive cellular functions.
Critical to our understanding of the developmental potential of stem cells and subsequent control of their differentiation in vitro and in vivo is a thorough understanding of the genes that control stem cell fate. Here, we report that Foxd3, a member of the forkhead family of transcriptional regulators, is required for maintenance of embryonic cells of the early mouse embryo. Foxd3-/- embryos die after implantation at approximately 6.5 days postcoitum with a loss of epiblast cells, expansion of proximal extraembryonic tissues, and a distal, mislocalized anterior organizing center. Moreover, it has not been possible to establish Foxd3-/- ES cell lines or to generate Foxd3-/- teratocarcinomas. Chimera analysis reveals that Foxd3 function is required in the epiblast and that Foxd3-/- embryos can be rescued by a small number of wild-type cells. Foxd3-/- mutant blastocysts appear morphologically normal and express Oct4, Sox2, and Fgf4, but when placed in vitro the inner cell mass initially proliferates and then fails to expand even when Fgf4 is added. These results establish Foxd3 as a factor required for the maintenance of progenitor cells in the mammalian embryo.
Ksp-cadherin is a unique, tissue-specific member of the cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules that is expressed in tubular epithelial cells in the kidney and developing genitourinary (GU) tract. It has recently been shown that a 1341-bp fragment of the 5' flanking region containing the Ksp-cadherin gene promoter can recapitulate the complete expression pattern of the gene in the developing kidney and GU tract. Similar to the endogenous Ksp-cadherin gene, transgenes containing 1341 bp of the 5' flanking region are expressed in developing nephrons, ureteric bud, mesonephric tubules, Wolffian duct, and Müllerian duct. In adult mice, the expression is restricted to renal tubules. In the current study, Ksp1.3/Cre transgenic mice carrying 1329 bp of the Ksp-cadherin 5' flanking region linked to the Cre recombinase gene were produced. Adult transgenic mice expressed Cre recombinase in renal tubules, especially collecting ducts and thick ascending limbs of Henle's loops. Transgenic embryos expressed Cre recombinase in the branching ureteric bud, developing renal tubules, and sex ducts. Ksp1.3/Cre transgenic mice were crossed with mice carrying a lacZ reporter gene that is activated by Cre/lox-mediated genetic recombination. Bitransgenic progeny expressed lacZ exclusively in renal tubules, mesonephric tubules, ureteric bud, developing ureter, and Wolffian duct. These results demonstrate that Ksp1.3/Cre transgenic mice express Cre recombinase exclusively in the kidney and developing GU tract and can mediate epithelial-specific Cre/lox recombination in these tissues. Ksp1.3/Cre transgenic mice should be useful for cell lineage studies and kidney-specific gene targeting.
UNLABELLED - Role of membrane-bound heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) in renal epithelial cell branching.
BACKGROUND - The developing metanephros is characterized by growth and differentiation of the ureteric bud and the surrounding mesenchymal tissue. These processes can be influenced by several growth factors, including epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha). We examined whether another member of the EGF family of growth factors, heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF), might act as a morphogen in renal epithelial tubulogenesis.
METHODS - Expression of HB-EGF mRNA and immunoreactive protein were examined in fetal, neonatal and adult rat kidneys. For in vitro studies of tubulogenesis, a rat renal epithelial cell line (NRK52E) stably transfected with proHB-EGF (NRKproHB-EGF) was treated with TPA for 30 minutes, washed with 2 mol/L NaCl to remove soluble HB-EGF trapped by cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan and replated onto plastic dishes in the absence of fetal calf serum. In further experiments, NRKproHB-EGF were suspended in a type I collagen gel in serum-free media.
RESULTS - Northern blot analysis indicated that HB-EGF was strongly expressed in embryonic rat kidney (embryonic days 18-20) and was still increased in the neonatal kidney (day 10), compared to the low basal levels in adult kidney. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed that immunoreactive HB-EGF expression in the fetal rat kidney was localized predominantly to the ureteric bud. When NRKproHB-EGF were plated onto plastic substrata, they became progressively flattened and enlarged and exhibited filopoidia. By 10 hours after plating, NRKproHB-EGF began to migrate and subsequently developed cell-cell contact and fully established tubular-like structures. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the initial recovery of cellular proHB-EGF was localized predominantly to areas of cell-cell attachment. No tubule-like structures were observed in similarly treated NRK52E cells transfected with the vector alone. In collagen gels, NRKproHB-EGF developed short tubule-like structures in the absence of TPA treatment, but with simultaneous TPA treatment, longer and more arborized structures developed. MMP-1 mRNA and immunoreactive protein increased in the TPA-treated cells, suggesting that protein kinase C-mediated collagenase activity was important for the observed tubulogenesis. However, inhibition of EGF receptor tyrosine kinase with AG 1478 significantly blunted the TPA-induced tubulogenesis by NRKproHB-EGF grown in collagen gels.
CONCLUSIONS - These results indicate that membrane-bound HB-EGF can mediate both epithelial cell branching and cell motility. Localization of proHB-EGF to the site of cell-cell contact and development of tubule-like structures in collagen gels suggests that proHB-EGF may be an important morphogen for renal epithelial cells.