The publication data currently available has been vetted by Vanderbilt faculty, staff, administrators and trainees. The data itself is retrieved directly from NCBI's PubMed and is automatically updated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy and completeness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
The potential for intrahepatic bile duct (IHBD) regeneration in patients with bile duct insufficiency diseases is poorly understood. Notch signaling and Hnf6 have each been shown to be important for the morphogenesis of IHBDs in mice. One congenital pediatric liver disease characterized by reduced numbers of IHBDs, Alagille syndrome, is associated with mutations in Notch signaling components. Therefore, we investigated whether liver cell plasticity could contribute to IHBD regeneration in mice with disruptions in Notch signaling and Hnf6. We studied a mouse model of bile duct insufficiency with liver epithelial cell-specific deficiencies in Hnf6 and Rbpj, a mediator of canonical Notch signaling. Albumin-Cre Hnf6(flox/flox)Rbpj(flox/flox) mice initially developed no peripheral bile ducts. The evolving postnatal liver phenotype was analyzed using IHBD resin casting, immunostaining, and serum chemistry. With age, Albumin-Cre Hnf6(flox/flox)Rbpj(flox/flox) mice mounted a ductular reaction extending through the hepatic tissue and then regenerated communicating peripheral IHBD branches. Rbpj and Hnf6 were determined to remain absent from biliary epithelial cells constituting the ductular reaction and the regenerated peripheral IHBDs. We report the expression of Sox9, a marker of biliary epithelial cells, in cells expressing hepatocyte markers. Tissue analysis indicates that reactive ductules did not arise directly from preexisting hilar IHBDs. We conclude that liver cell plasticity is competent for regeneration of IHBDs independent of Notch signaling via Rbpj and Hnf6.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The lineage-specific basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Ptf1a is a critical driver for development of both the pancreas and nervous system. How one transcription factor controls diverse programs of gene expression is a fundamental question in developmental biology. To uncover molecular strategies for the program-specific functions of Ptf1a, we identified bound genomic regions in vivo during development of both tissues. Most regions bound by Ptf1a are specific to each tissue, lie near genes needed for proper formation of each tissue, and coincide with regions of open chromatin. The specificity of Ptf1a binding is encoded in the DNA surrounding the Ptf1a-bound sites, because these regions are sufficient to direct tissue-restricted reporter expression in transgenic mice. Fox and Sox factors were identified as potential lineage-specific modifiers of Ptf1a binding, since binding motifs for these factors are enriched in Ptf1a-bound regions in pancreas and neural tube, respectively. Of the Fox factors expressed during pancreatic development, Foxa2 plays a major role. Indeed, Ptf1a and Foxa2 colocalize in embryonic pancreatic chromatin and can act synergistically in cell transfection assays. Together, these findings indicate that lineage-specific chromatin landscapes likely constrain the DNA binding of Ptf1a, and they identify Fox and Sox gene families as part of this process.
Early pancreatic morphogenesis is characterized by the transformation of an uncommitted pool of pancreatic progenitor cells into a branched pancreatic epithelium that consists of 'tip' and 'trunk' domains. These domains have distinct molecular signatures and differentiate into distinct pancreatic cell lineages. Cells at the branched tips of the epithelium develop into acinar cells, whereas cells in the trunk subcompartment differentiate into endocrine and duct cells. Recent genetic analyses have highlighted the role of key transcriptional regulators in the specification of these subcompartments. Here, we analyzed in mice the role of Notch signaling in the patterning of multipotent pancreatic progenitor cells through mosaic overexpression of a Notch signaling antagonist, dominant-negative mastermind-like 1, resulting in a mixture of wild-type and Notch-suppressed pancreatic progenitor cells. We find that attenuation of Notch signaling has pronounced patterning effects on multipotent pancreatic progenitor cells prior to terminal differentiation. Relative to the wild-type cells, the Notch-suppressed cells lose trunk marker genes and gain expression of tip marker genes. The Notch-suppressed cells subsequently differentiate into acinar cells, whereas duct and endocrine populations are formed predominantly from the wild-type cells. Mechanistically, these observations could be explained by a requirement of Notch for the expression of the trunk determination gene Nkx6.1. This was supported by the finding of direct binding of RBP-jκ to the Nkx6.1 proximal promoter.
The Notch signaling pathway regulates embryonic development of the pancreas, inhibiting progenitor differentiation into exocrine acinar and endocrine islet cells. The adult pancreas appears to lack progenitor cells, and its mature cell types are maintained by the proliferation of pre-existing differentiated cells. Nonetheless, Notch remains active in adult duct and terminal duct/centroacinar cells (CACs), in which its function is unknown. We previously developed mice in which cells expressing the Notch target gene Hes1 can be labeled and manipulated, by expression of Cre recombinase, and demonstrated that Hes1(+) CACs do not behave as acinar or islet progenitors in the uninjured pancreas, or as islet progenitors after pancreatic duct ligation. In the current study, we assessed the function of Notch signaling in the adult pancreas by deleting the transcription factor partner of Notch, Rbpj, specifically in Hes1(+) cells. We find that loss of Rbpj depletes the pancreas of Hes1-expressing CACs, abrogating their ongoing contribution to growth and homeostasis of more proximal duct structures. Upon Rbpj deletion, CACs undergo a rapid transformation into acinar cells, suggesting that constitutive Notch activity suppresses the acinar differentiation potential of CACs. Together, our data provide direct evidence of an endogenous genetic program to control interconversion of cell fates in the adult pancreas.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Notch-dependent CSL transcription complexes control essential biological processes such as cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell-fate decisions in diverse developmental systems. The orthologous proteins CBF1/Rbpj (mammalian), Su(H) (Drosophila), and Lag-1 (Caenorhabditis elegans) compose the CSL family of sequence-specific DNA-binding transcription factors. The CSL proteins are best known for their role in canonical Notch signaling. However, CSL factors also form transcription complexes that can function independent of Notch signaling and include repression and activation of target gene transcription. Because the different complexes share CSL as a DNA-binding subunit, they can control overlapping sets of genes; but they can also control distinct sets when partnered with tissue-specific cofactors that restrict DNA-sequence recognition or stability of the DNA-bound complex. The Notch-independent functions of CSL and the processes they regulate will be reviewed here with a particular emphasis on the tissue-specific CSL-activator complex with the bHLH factor Ptf1a.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
UNLABELLED - Notch signaling and hepatocyte nuclear factor-6 (HNF-6) are two genetic factors known to affect lineage commitment in the bipotential hepatoblast progenitor cell (BHPC) population. A genetic interaction involving Notch signaling and HNF-6 in mice has been inferred through separate experiments showing that both affect BHPC specification and bile duct morphogenesis. To define the genetic interaction between HNF-6 and Notch signaling in an in vivo mouse model, we examined the effects of BHPC-specific loss of HNF-6 alone and within the background of BHPC-specific loss of recombination signal binding protein immunoglobulin kappa J (RBP-J), the common DNA-binding partner of all Notch receptors. Isolated loss of HNF-6 in this mouse model fails to demonstrate a phenotypic variance in bile duct development compared to control. However, when HNF-6 loss is combined with RBP-J loss, a phenotype consisting of cholestasis, hepatic necrosis, and fibrosis is observed that is more severe than the phenotype seen with Notch signaling loss alone. This phenotype is associated with significant intrahepatic biliary system abnormalities, including an early decrease in biliary epithelial cells, evolving to ductular proliferation and a decrease in the density of communicating peripheral bile duct branches. In this in vivo model, simultaneous loss of both HNF-6 and RBP-J results in down-regulation of both HNF-1β and Sox9 (sex determining region Y-related HMG box transcription factor 9).
CONCLUSION - HNF-6 and Notch signaling interact in vivo to control expression of downstream mediators essential to the normal development of the intrahepatic biliary system. This study provides a model to investigate genetic interactions of factors important to intrahepatic bile duct development and their effect on cholestatic liver disease phenotypes.
Copyright © 2011 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
Abnormal Notch signaling in humans results in Alagille syndrome, a pleiotropic disease characterized by a paucity of intrahepatic bile ducts (IHBDs). It is not clear how IHBD paucity develops as a consequence of atypical Notch signaling, whether by a developmental lack of bile duct formation, a post-natal lack of branching and elongation or an inability to maintain formed ducts. Previous studies have focused on the role of Notch in IHBD development, and demonstrated a dosage requirement of Notch signaling for proper IHBD formation. In this study, we use resin casting and X-ray microtomography (microCT) analysis to address the role of Notch signaling in the maintenance of formed IHBDs upon chronic loss or gain of Notch function. Our data show that constitutive expression of the Notch1 intracellular domain in bi-potential hepatoblast progenitor cells (BHPCs) results in increased IHBD branches at post-natal day 60 (P60), which are maintained at P90 and P120. By contrast, loss of Notch signaling via BHPC-specific deletion of RBP-J (RBP KO), the DNA-binding partner for all Notch receptors, results in progressive loss of intact IHBD branches with age. Interestingly, in RBP KO mice, we observed a reduction in bile ducts per portal vein at P60; no further reduction had occurred at P120. Thus, bile duct structures are not lost with age; instead, we propose a model in which BHPC-specific loss of Notch signaling results in an initial developmental defect resulting in fewer bile ducts being formed, and in an acquired post-natal defect in the maintenance of intact IHBD architecture as a result of irresolvable cholestasis. Our studies reveal a previously unappreciated role for Notch signaling in the post-natal maintenance of an intact communicating IHBD structure, and suggest that liver defects observed in Alagille syndrome patients might be more complex than bile duct paucity.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - The mature pancreatic acinar cell is dedicated to the production of very large amounts of digestive enzymes. The early stages of pancreatic development require the Rbpj form of the trimeric Pancreas Transcription Factor 1 complex (PTF1-J). As acinar development commences, Rbpjl gradually replaces Rbpj; in the mature pancreas, PTF1 contains Rbpjl (PTF1-L). We investigated whether PTF1-L controls the expression of genes that complete the final stage of acinar differentiation.
METHODS - We analyzed acinar development and transcription in mice with disrupted Rbpjl (Rbpjl(ko/ko) mice). We performed comprehensive analyses of the messenger RNA population and PTF1 target genes in pancreatic acinar cells from these and wild-type mice.
RESULTS - In Rbpjl(ko/ko) mice, acinar differentiation was incomplete and characterized by decreased expression (as much as 99%) of genes that encode digestive enzymes or proteins of regulated exocytosis and mitochondrial metabolism. Whereas PTF1-L bound regulatory sites of genes in normal adult pancreatic cells, the embryonic form (PTF1-J) persisted in the absence of Rbpjl and replaced PTF1-L; the extent of replacement determined gene expression levels. Loss of PTF1-L reduced expression (>2-fold) of only about 50 genes, 90% of which were direct targets of PTF1-L. The magnitude of the effects on individual digestive enzyme genes correlated with the developmental timing of gene activation. Absence of Rbpjl increased pancreatic expression of liver-restricted messenger RNA.
CONCLUSIONS - Replacement of Rbpj by Rbpjl in the PTF1 complex drives acinar differentiation by maximizing secretory protein synthesis, stimulating mitochondrial metabolism and cytoplasmic creatine-phosphate energy stores, completing the packaging and secretory apparatus, and maintaining acinar-cell homeostasis.
Copyright 2010 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PTF1-J is a trimeric transcription factor complex essential for generating the correct balance of GABAergic and glutamatergic interneurons in multiple regions of the nervous system, including the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and the cerebellum. Although the components of PTF1-J have been identified as the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) factor Ptf1a, its heterodimeric E-protein partner, and Rbpj, no neural targets are known for this transcription factor complex. Here we identify the neuronal differentiation gene Neurog2 (Ngn2, Math4A, neurogenin 2) as a direct target of PTF1-J. A Neurog2 dorsal neural tube enhancer localized 3' of the Neurog2 coding sequence was identified that requires a PTF1-J binding site for dorsal activity in mouse and chick neural tube. Gain and loss of Ptf1a function in vivo demonstrate its role in Neurog2 enhancer activity. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation from neural tube tissue demonstrates that Ptf1a is bound to the Neurog2 enhancer. Thus, Neurog2 expression is directly regulated by the PTF1-J complex, identifying Neurog2 as the first neural target of Ptf1a and revealing a bHLH transcription factor cascade functioning in the specification of GABAergic neurons in the dorsal spinal cord and cerebellum.
Neural networks are balanced by inhibitory and excitatory neuronal activity. The formation of these networks is initially generated through neuronal subtype specification controlled by transcription factors. The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor Ptf1a is essential for the generation of GABAergic inhibitory neurons in the dorsal spinal cord, cerebellum, and retina. The transcription factor Rbpj is a transducer of the Notch signaling pathway that functions to maintain neural progenitor cells. Here we demonstrate Ptf1a and Rbpj interact in a complex that is required in vivo for specification of the GABAergic neurons, a function that cannot be substituted by the classical form of the bHLH heterodimer with E-protein or Notch signaling through Rbpj. We show that a mutant form of Ptf1a without the ability to bind Rbpj, while retaining its ability to interact with E-protein, is incapable of inducing GABAergic (Pax2)- and suppressing glutamatergic (Tlx3)-expressing cells in the chick and mouse neural tube. Moreover, we use an Rbpj conditional mutation to demonstrate that Rbpj function is essential for GABAergic specification, and that this function is independent of the Notch signaling pathway. Together, these findings demonstrate the requirement for a Ptf1a-Rbpj complex in controlling the balanced formation of inhibitory and excitatory neurons in the developing spinal cord, and point to a novel Notch-independent function for Rbpj in nervous system development.