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Skin is a complex organ tasked with, among other functions, protecting the body from the outside world. Its outermost protective layer, the epidermis, is comprised of multiple cell layers that are derived from a single-layered ectoderm during development. Using a new stochastic, multi-scale computational modelling framework, the anisotropic subcellular element method, we investigate the role of cell morphology and biophysical cell-cell interactions in the formation of this layered structure. This three-dimensional framework describes interactions between collections of hundreds to thousands of cells and (i) accounts for intracellular structure and morphology, (ii) easily incorporates complex cell-cell interactions and (iii) can be efficiently implemented on parallel architectures. We use this approach to construct a model of the developing epidermis that accounts for the internal polarity of ectodermal cells and their columnar morphology. Using this model, we show that cell detachment, which has been previously suggested to have a role in this process, leads to unpredictable, randomized stratification and that this cannot be abrogated by adjustment of cell-cell adhesion interaction strength. Polarized distribution of cell adhesion proteins, motivated by epithelial polarization, can however eliminate this detachment, and in conjunction with asymmetric cell division lead to robust and predictable development.
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Mosquitoes respond to infection by mounting immune responses. The primary regulators of these immune responses are cells called hemocytes, which kill pathogens via phagocytosis and via the production of soluble antimicrobial factors. Mosquito hemocytes are circulated throughout the hemocoel (body cavity) by the swift flow of hemolymph (blood), and data show that some hemocytes also exist as sessile cells that are attached to tissues. The purpose of this study was to create a quantitative physical map of hemocyte distribution in the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and to describe the cellular immune response in an organismal context.
RESULTS - Using correlative imaging methods we found that the number of hemocytes in a mosquito decreases with age, but that regardless of age, approximately 75% of the hemocytes occur in circulation and 25% occur as sessile cells. Infection induces an increase in the number of hemocytes, and tubulin and nuclear staining showed that this increase is primarily due to mitosis and, more specifically, autonomous cell division, by circulating granulocytes. The majority of sessile hemocytes are present on the abdominal wall, although significant numbers of hemocytes are also present in the thorax, head, and several of the appendages. Within the abdominal wall, the areas of highest hemocyte density are the periostial regions (regions surrounding the valves of the heart, or ostia), which are ideal locations for pathogen capture as these are areas of high hemolymph flow.
CONCLUSIONS - These data describe the spatial and temporal distribution of mosquito hemocytes, and map the cellular response to infection throughout the hemocoel.
Forisomes are protein polymers found in leguminous plants that have the remarkable ability to undergo reversible "muscle-like" contractions in the presence of divalent cations and in extreme pH environments. To gain insight into the molecular basis of forisome structure and assembly, we used confocal laser scanning microscopy to monitor the assembly of fluorescence-labeled artificial forisomes in real time, revealing two distinct assembly processes involving either fiber elongation or fiber alignment. We also used scanning and transmission electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to investigate the ultrastructure of forisomes, finding that individual fibers are arranged into compact fibril bundles that disentangle with minimal residual order in the presence of calcium ions. To demonstrate the potential applications of artificial forisomes, we created hybrid protein bodies from forisome subunits fused to the B-domain of staphylococcal protein A. This allowed the functionalization of the artificial forisomes with antibodies that were then used to target forisomes to specific regions on a substrate, providing a straightforward approach to develop forisome-based technical devices with precise configurations. The functional contractile properties of forisomes are also better preserved when they are immobilized via affinity reagents rather than by direct contact to the substrate. Artificial forisomes produced in plants and yeast therefore provide an ideal model for the investigation of forisome structure and assembly and for the design and testing of tailored artificial forisomes for technical applications.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate the expression of many mammalian genes and play key roles in embryonic hair follicle development; however, little is known of their functions in postnatal hair growth. We compared the effects of deleting the essential miRNA biogenesis enzymes Drosha and Dicer in mouse skin epithelial cells at successive postnatal time points. Deletion of either Drosha or Dicer during an established growth phase (anagen) caused failure of hair follicles to enter a normal catagen regression phase, eventual follicular degradation and stem cell loss. Deletion of Drosha or Dicer in resting phase follicles did not affect follicular structure or epithelial stem cell maintenance, and stimulation of anagen by hair plucking caused follicular proliferation and formation of a primitive transient amplifying matrix population. However, mutant matrix cells exhibited apoptosis and DNA damage and hair follicles rapidly degraded. Hair follicle defects at early time points post-deletion occurred in the absence of inflammation, but a dermal inflammatory response and hyperproliferation of interfollicular epidermis accompanied subsequent hair follicle degradation. These data reveal multiple functions for Drosha and Dicer in suppressing DNA damage in rapidly proliferating follicular matrix cells, facilitating catagen and maintaining follicular structures and their associated stem cells. Although Drosha and Dicer each possess independent non-miRNA-related functions, the similarity in phenotypes of the inducible epidermal Drosha and Dicer mutants indicates that these defects result primarily from failure of miRNA processing. Consistent with this, Dicer deletion resulted in the upregulation of multiple direct targets of the highly expressed epithelial miRNA miR-205.
Lrig1 is a marker of human interfollicular epidermal stem cells and helps maintain stem cell quiescence. We show that, in mouse epidermis, Lrig1 defines the hair follicle junctional zone adjacent to the sebaceous glands and infundibulum. Lrig1 is a Myc target gene; loss of Lrig1 increases the proliferative capacity of stem cells in culture and results in epidermal hyperproliferation in vivo. Lrig1-expressing cells can give rise to all of the adult epidermal lineages in skin reconstitution assays. However, during homeostasis and on retinoic acid stimulation, they are bipotent, contributing to the sebaceous gland and interfollicular epidermis. beta-catenin activation increases the size of the junctional zone compartment, and loss of Lrig1 causes a selective increase in beta-catenin-induced ectopic hair follicle formation in the interfollicular epidermis. Our results suggest that Lrig1-positive cells constitute a previously unidentified reservoir of adult mouse interfollicular epidermal stem cells.
Arachidonic acid can be transformed into a specific epoxyalcohol product via the sequential action of two epidermal lipoxygenases, 12R-LOX and eLOX3. Functional impairment of either lipoxygenase gene (ALOX12B or ALOXE3) results in ichthyosis, suggesting a role for the common epoxyalcohol product or its metabolites in the differentiation of normal human skin. Here we tested the ability of products derived from the epidermal LOX pathway to activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors PPARalpha, gamma, and delta, which have been implicated in epidermal differentiation. Using a dual luciferase reporter assay in PC3 cells, the 12R-LOX/eLOX3-derived epoxyalcohol, 8R-hydroxy-11R,12R-epoxyeicosa-5Z,9E,14Z-trienoic acid, activated PPARalpha with similar in potency to the known natural ligand, 8S-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (8S-HETE) (both at 10 microM concentration). In contrast, the PPARgamma and PPARdelta receptor isoforms were not activated by the epoxyalcohol. Activation of PPARalpha was also observed using the trihydroxy hydrolysis products (trioxilins) of the unstable epoxyalcohol. Of the four trioxilins isolated and characterized, the highest activation was observed with the isomer that is also formed by enzymatic hydrolysis of the epoxyalcohol. Formation of a ligand for the nuclear receptor PPARalpha may be one possibility by which 12R-LOX and eLOX3 contribute to epidermal differentiation.
Non-receptor tyrosine kinase proline-rich protein tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) functions as an integrator of multiple signaling pathways involved in the regulation of fundamental cellular processes. Pyk2 expression, regulation, and functions in skin have not been examined. Here we investigated the expression and subcellular localization of Pyk2 in human epidermis and in primary human keratinocytes, and studied the mechanisms of Pyk2 activation by differentiation-inducing stimuli, and the role of Pyk2 as a regulator of keratinocyte differentiation. We demonstrate that Pyk2 is abundantly expressed in skin keratinocytes. Notably, the endogenous Pyk2 protein is predominantly localized in keratinocyte nuclei throughout all layers of healthy human epidermis, and in cultured human keratinocytes. Pyk2 is activated by treatment with keratinocyte-differentiating agents, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and calcium via a mechanism that requires intracellular calcium release and functional protein kinase C (PKC) and Src activities. Particularly, differentiation-promoting PKC delta and PKC eta elicit Pyk2 activation. Our data show that Pyk2 increases promoter activity and endogenous protein levels of involucrin, a marker of keratinocyte terminal differentiation. This regulation is associated with increased expression of Fra-1 and JunD, activator protein-1 transcription factors known to be required for involucrin expression. Altogether, these results provide insights into Pyk2 signaling in epidermis and reveal a novel role for Pyk2 in regulation of keratinocyte differentiation.
Mice lacking the desmosome protein Perp exhibit blistering in their stratified epithelia and display postnatal lethality. However, it is unclear if these phenotypes are strictly related to Perp function in stratified epithelia, as Perp expression is not restricted to these tissues during embryogenesis, and certain desmosomal blistering diseases such as pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus have non-cell-intrinsic bases. Furthermore, we show here that Perp is expressed in the heart, raising the possibility that defects in heart function could account for lethality in the Perp-deficient mice. To determine conclusively if Perp function in stratified epithelia is crucial for postnatal survival and epithelial adhesion, we specifically ablated Perp in stratified epithelia by breeding conditional Perp knockout mice to keratin 5 (K5)-Cre transgenic mice. We found that the majority of mice lacking Perp in stratified epithelia die within 10 days after birth, accompanied by blistering and hyperproliferation in the epithelia, similar to the constitutive Perp null mice. Together, these findings indicate that Perp's requirement for both viability and epithelial integrity reflects a role in the stratified epithelial compartment.
Bves (blood vessel/epicardial substance) is a transmembrane protein postulated to play a role in cell adhesion. While it is clear that Bves and gene products of the same family are expressed in adult striated muscle cells, the distribution of these proteins during development has not been critically examined. An understanding of the expression pattern of Bves is essential for a determination of protein function and its role in embryogenesis. In this study, we present an expression analysis of Bves during chick gastrulation and germ layer formation. Our data show that Bves is expressed in epithelia of all three germ layers early in development. Furthermore, Bves protein is observed in epithelial tissues during organogenesis, specifically the developing epidermis, the gut endoderm, and the epicardium of the heart. These data support the hypothesis that Bves may play a role in cell adhesion and movement of epithelia during early embryogenesis.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Hair follicle morphogenesis is initiated by a dermal signal that induces the development of placodes in the overlying epithelium. To determine whether WNT signals are required for initiation of follicular development, we ectopically expressed Dickkopf 1, a potent diffusible inhibitor of WNT action, in the skin of transgenic mice. This produced a complete failure of placode formation prior to morphological or molecular signs of differentiation, and blocked tooth and mammary gland development before the bud stage. This phenotype indicates that activation of WNT signaling in the skin precedes, and is required for, localized expression of regulatory genes and initiation of hair follicle placode formation.