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In a screen for human kinases that regulate Xenopus laevis embryogenesis, we identified Nagk and other components of the UDP-GlcNAc glycosylation salvage pathway as regulators of anteroposterior patterning and Wnt signaling. We find that the salvage pathway does not affect other major embryonic signaling pathways (Fgf, TGFβ, Notch, or Shh), thereby demonstrating specificity for Wnt signaling. We show that the role of the salvage pathway in Wnt signaling is evolutionarily conserved in zebrafish and Drosophila. Finally, we show that GlcNAc is essential for the growth of intestinal enteroids, which are highly dependent on Wnt signaling for growth and maintenance. We propose that the Wnt pathway is sensitive to alterations in the glycosylation state of a cell and acts as a nutritional sensor in order to couple growth/proliferation with its metabolic status. We also propose that the clinical manifestations observed in congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) in humans may be due, in part, to their effects on Wnt signaling during development.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Neuronal-glial relationships play a critical role in the maintenance of central nervous system architecture and neuronal specification. A deeper understanding of these relationships can elucidate cellular cross-talk capable of sustaining proper development of neural tissues. In the cerebellum, cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs) proliferate in response to Purkinje neuron-derived Sonic hedgehog (Shh) before ultimately exiting the cell cycle and migrating radially along Bergmann glial fibers. However, the function of Bergmann glia in CGNP proliferation remains not well defined. Interestingly, the Hh pathway is also activated in Bergmann glia, but the role of Shh signaling in these cells is unknown. In this study, we show that specific ablation of Shh signaling using the tamoxifen-inducible TNC line to eliminate Shh pathway activator Smoothened in Bergmann glia is sufficient to cause severe cerebellar hypoplasia and a significant reduction in CGNP proliferation. TNC; Smo (Smo) mice demonstrate an obvious reduction in cerebellar size within two days of ablation of Shh signaling. Mutant cerebella have severely reduced proliferation and increased differentiation of CGNPs due to a significant decrease in Shh activity and concomitant activation of Wnt signaling in Smo CGNPs, suggesting that this pathway is involved in cross-talk with the Shh pathway in regulating CGNP proliferation. In addition, Purkinje cells are ectopically located, their dendrites stunted, and the Bergmann glial network disorganized. Collectively, these data demonstrate a previously unappreciated role for Bergmann glial Shh signaling activity in the proliferation of CGNPs and proper maintenance of cerebellar architecture.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Lung epithelial lineages have been difficult to maintain in pure form in vitro, and lineage-specific reporters have proven invaluable for monitoring their emergence from cultured pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). However, reporter constructs for tracking proximal airway lineages generated from PSCs have not been previously available, limiting the characterization of these cells. Here, we engineer mouse and human PSC lines carrying airway secretory lineage reporters that facilitate the tracking, purification, and profiling of this lung subtype. Through bulk and single-cell-based global transcriptomic profiling, we find PSC-derived airway secretory cells are susceptible to phenotypic plasticity exemplified by the tendency to co-express both a proximal airway secretory program as well as an alveolar type 2 cell program, which can be minimized by inhibiting endogenous Wnt signaling. Our results provide global profiles of engineered lung cell fates, a guide for improving their directed differentiation, and a human model of the developing airway.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) mutations cause Wnt pathway activation in human cancers. Current models for APC action emphasize its role in promoting β-catenin degradation downstream of Wnt receptors. Unexpectedly, we find that blocking Wnt receptor activity in APC-deficient cells inhibits Wnt signaling independently of Wnt ligand. We also show that inducible loss of APC is rapidly followed by Wnt receptor activation and increased β-catenin levels. In contrast, APC2 loss does not promote receptor activation. We show that APC exists in a complex with clathrin and that Wnt pathway activation in APC-deficient cells requires clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Finally, we demonstrate conservation of this mechanism in Drosophila intestinal stem cells. We propose a model in which APC and APC2 function to promote β-catenin degradation, and APC also acts as a molecular "gatekeeper" to block receptor activation via the clathrin pathway.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
RHOA, a founding member of the Rho GTPase family, is critical for actomyosin dynamics, polarity, and morphogenesis in response to developmental cues, mechanical stress, and inflammation. In murine small intestinal epithelium, inducible RHOA deletion causes a loss of epithelial polarity, with disrupted villi and crypt organization. In the intestinal crypts, RHOA deficiency results in reduced cell proliferation, increased apoptosis, and a loss of intestinal stem cells (ISCs) that mimic effects of radiation damage. Mechanistically, RHOA loss reduces YAP signaling of the Hippo pathway and affects YAP effector epiregulin (EREG) expression in the crypts. Expression of an active YAP (S112A) mutant rescues ISC marker expression, ISC regeneration, and ISC-associated Wnt signaling, but not defective epithelial polarity, in RhoA knockout mice, implicating YAP in RHOA-regulated ISC function. EREG treatment or active β-catenin Catnb mutant expression rescues the RhoA KO ISC phenotypes. Thus, RHOA controls YAP-EREG signaling to regulate intestinal homeostasis and ISC regeneration.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) functions modulate synapse formation and activity-dependent plasticity. Aberrant MMP activity is implicated in fragile X syndrome (FXS), a disease caused by the loss of the RNA-binding protein FMRP and characterized by neurological dysfunction and intellectual disability. Gene expression studies in suggest that Mmps cooperate with the heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) glypican co-receptor Dally-like protein (Dlp) to restrict trans-synaptic Wnt signaling and that synaptogenic defects in the fly model of FXS are alleviated by either inhibition of Mmp or genetic reduction of Dlp. We used the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) glutamatergic synapse to test activity-dependent Dlp and Mmp intersections in the context of FXS. We found that rapid, activity-dependent synaptic bouton formation depended on secreted Mmp1. Acute neuronal stimulation reduced the abundance of Mmp2 but increased that of both Mmp1 and Dlp, as well as enhanced the colocalization of Dlp and Mmp1 at the synapse. Dlp function promoted Mmp1 abundance, localization, and proteolytic activity around synapses. Dlp glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains mediated this functional interaction with Mmp1. In the FXS fly model, activity-dependent increases in Mmp1 abundance and activity were lost but were restored by reducing the amount of synaptic Dlp. The data suggest that neuronal activity-induced, HSPG-dependent Mmp regulation drives activity-dependent synaptogenesis and that this is impaired in FXS. Thus, exploring this mechanism further may reveal therapeutic targets that have the potential to restore synaptogenesis in FXS patients.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
Lung alveoli, which are unique to air-breathing organisms, have been challenging to generate from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) in part because there are limited model systems available to provide the necessary developmental roadmaps for in vitro differentiation. Here we report the generation of alveolar epithelial type 2 cells (AEC2s), the facultative progenitors of lung alveoli, from human PSCs. Using multicolored fluorescent reporter lines, we track and purify human SFTPC+ alveolar progenitors as they emerge from endodermal precursors in response to stimulation of Wnt and FGF signaling. Purified PSC-derived SFTPC+ cells form monolayered epithelial "alveolospheres" in 3D cultures without the need for mesenchymal support, exhibit self-renewal capacity, and display additional AEC2 functional capacities. Footprint-free CRISPR-based gene correction of PSCs derived from patients carrying a homozygous surfactant mutation (SFTPB) restores surfactant processing in AEC2s. Thus, PSC-derived AEC2s provide a platform for disease modeling and future functional regeneration of the distal lung.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The hyperactivated Wnt/β-catenin signaling acts as a switch to induce epithelial to mesenchymal transition and promote colorectal cancer. However, due to its essential role in gut homeostasis, therapeutic targeting of this pathway has proven challenging. Additionally, IL-6/Stat-3 signaling, activated by microbial translocation through the dysregulated mucosal barrier in colon adenomas, facilitates the adenoma to adenocarcinomas transition. However, inter-dependence between these signaling pathways and key mucosal barrier components in regulating colon tumorigenesis and cancer progression remains unclear. In current study, we have discovered, using a comprehensive investigative regimen, a novel and tissue-specific role of claudin-3, a tight junction integral protein, in inhibiting colon cancer progression by serving as the common rheostat of Stat-3 and Wnt-signaling activation. Loss of claudin-3 also predicted poor patient survival. These findings however contrasted an upregulated claudin-3 expression in other cancer types and implicated role of the epigenetic regulation. Claudin-3-/- mice revealed dedifferentiated and leaky colonic epithelium, and developed invasive adenocarcinoma when subjected to colon cancer. Wnt-signaling hyperactivation, albeit in GSK-3β independent manner, differentiated colon cancer in claudin-3-/- mice versus WT-mice. Claudin-3 loss also upregulated the gp130/IL6/Stat3 signaling in colonic epithelium potentially assisted by infiltrating immune components. Genetic and pharmacological studies confirmed that claudin-3 loss induces Wnt/β-catenin activation, which is further exacerbated by Stat-3-activation and help promote colon cancer. Overall, these novel findings identify claudin-3 as a therapeutic target for inhibiting overactivation of Wnt-signaling to prevent CRC malignancy.
The SMOOTHENED inhibitor vismodegib is FDA approved for advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and shows promise in clinical trials for SONIC HEDGEHOG (SHH)-subgroup medulloblastoma (MB) patients. Clinical experience with BCC patients shows that continuous exposure to vismodegib is necessary to prevent tumor recurrence, suggesting the existence of a vismodegib-resistant reservoir of tumor-propagating cells. We isolated such tumor-propagating cells from a mouse model of SHH-subgroup MB and grew them as sphere cultures. These cultures were enriched for the MB progenitor marker SOX2 and formed tumors in vivo. Moreover, while their ability to self-renew was resistant to SHH inhibitors, as has been previously suggested, this self-renewal was instead WNT-dependent. We show here that loss of Trp53 activates canonical WNT signaling in these SOX2-enriched cultures. Importantly, a small molecule WNT inhibitor was able to reduce the propagation and growth of SHH-subgroup MB in vivo, in an on-target manner, leading to increased survival. Our results imply that the tumor-propagating cells driving the growth of bulk SHH-dependent MB are themselves WNT dependent. Further, our data suggest combination therapy with WNT and SHH inhibitors as a therapeutic strategy in patients with SHH-subgroup MB, in order to decrease the tumor recurrence commonly observed in patients treated with vismodegib.
Wilms tumor (WT) is the most common renal malignancy in children and the fourth most common pediatric solid malignancy in the US. Although the mechanisms underlying the WT biology are complex, these tumors most often demonstrate activation of the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway. We and others have shown that constitutive activation of β-catenin restricted to the renal epithelium is sufficient to induce primitive renal epithelial tumors, which resemble human WT. Here we demonstrate that pharmacologic inhibition of β-catenin gene transcription with pyrvinium inhibits tumor growth and metastatic progression in a murine model of WT. Cellular invasion is significantly inhibited in both murine WT-like and human WT cells and is accompanied by downregulation of the oncogenes Myc and Birc5 (survivin). Our studies provide proof of the concept that the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway may be a novel therapeutic target in the management of WT.