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In preterm infants, soluble inflammatory mediators target lung mesenchymal cells, disrupting airway and alveolar morphogenesis. However, how mesenchymal cells respond directly to microbial stimuli remains poorly characterized. Our objective was to measure the genome-wide innate immune response in fetal lung mesenchymal cells exposed to the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS). With the use of Affymetrix MoGene 1.0st arrays, we showed that LPS induced expression of unique innate immune transcripts heavily weighted toward CC and CXC family chemokines. The transcriptional response was different between cells from E11, E15, and E18 mouse lungs. In all cells tested, LPS inhibited expression of a small core group of genes including the VEGF receptor Although best characterized in vascular endothelial populations, we demonstrated here that fetal mouse lung mesenchymal cells express and respond to VEGF-A stimulation. In mesenchymal cells, VEGF-A increased cell migration, activated the ERK/AKT pathway, and promoted FOXO3A nuclear exclusion. With the use of an experimental coculture model of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, we also showed that VEGFR2 inhibition prevented formation of three-dimensional structures. Both LPS and tyrosine kinase inhibition reduced three-dimensional structure formation. Our data suggest a novel mechanism for inflammation-mediated defects in lung development involving reduced VEGF signaling in lung mesenchyme.
Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society.
Heart development depends on coordinated proliferation and differentiation of cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs), but how the two processes are synchronized is not well understood. Here, we show that the secreted Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) antagonist GREMLIN 2 (GREM2) is induced in CPCs shortly after cardiac mesoderm specification during differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. GREM2 expression follows cardiac lineage differentiation independently of the differentiation method used, or the origin of the pluripotent stem cells, suggesting that GREM2 is linked to cardiogenesis. Addition of GREM2 protein strongly increases cardiomyocyte output compared to established procardiogenic differentiation methods. Our data show that inhibition of canonical BMP signaling by GREM2 is necessary to promote proliferation of CPCs. However, canonical BMP signaling inhibition alone is not sufficient to induce cardiac differentiation, which depends on subsequent JNK pathway activation specifically by GREM2. These findings may have broader implications in the design of approaches to orchestrate growth and differentiation of pluripotent stem cell-derived lineages that depend on precise regulation of BMP signaling.
The transcription factor Pdx1 is required for multiple aspects of pancreatic organogenesis. It remains unclear to what extent Pdx1 expression and function depend upon trans-activation through 5' conserved cis-regulatory regions and, in particular, whether the mammal-specific Area II (-2139 to -1958 bp) affects minor or major aspects of organogenesis. We show that Area II is a primary effector of endocrine-selective transcription in epithelial multipotent cells, nascent endocrine progenitors, and differentiating and mature β cells in vivo Pdx1 mice exhibit a massive reduction in endocrine progenitor cells and progeny hormone-producing cells, indicating that Area II activity is fundamental to mounting an effective endocrine lineage-specification program within the multipotent cell population. Creating an Area II-deleted state within already specified Neurog3-expressing endocrine progenitor cells increased the proportion of glucagon α relative to insulin β cells, associated with the transcriptional and epigenetic derepression of the α-cell-determining Arx gene in endocrine progenitors. There were also glucagon and insulin co-expressing cells, and β cells that were incapable of maturation. Creating the Pdx1 state after cells entered an insulin-expressing stage led to immature and dysfunctional islet β cells carrying abnormal chromatin marking in vital β-cell-associated genes. Therefore, trans-regulatory integration through Area II mediates a surprisingly extensive range of progenitor and β-cell-specific Pdx1 functions.
© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
Purpose - The scaffold protein Axin2 is an antagonist and universal target of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Disruption of Axin2 may lead to developmental eye defects; however, this has not been examined. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of Axin2 during ocular and extraocular development in mouse.
Methods - Animals heterozygous and homozygous for a Axin2lacZ knock-in allele were analyzed at different developmental stages for reporter expression, morphology as well as for the presence of ocular and extraocular markers using histologic and immunohistochemical techniques.
Results - During early eye development, the Axin2lacZ reporter was expressed in the periocular mesenchyme, RPE, and optic stalk. In the developing retina, Axin2lacZ reporter expression was initiated in ganglion cells at late embryonic stages and robustly expressed in subpopulations of amacrine and horizontal cells postnatally. Activation of the Axin2lacZ reporter overlapped with labeling of POU4F1, PAX6, and Calbindin. Germline deletion of Axin2 led to variable ocular phenotypes ranging from normal to severely defective eyes exhibiting microphthalmia, coloboma, lens defects, and expanded ciliary margin. These defects were correlated with abnormal tissue patterning in individual affected tissues, such as the optic fissure margins in the ventral optic cup and in the expanded ciliary margin.
Conclusions - Our results reveal a critical role for Axin2 during ocular development, likely by restricting the activity of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.
The current model for endocrine cell specification in the pancreas invokes high-level production of the transcription factor Neurogenin 3 (Neurog3) in Sox9(+) bipotent epithelial cells as the trigger for endocrine commitment, cell cycle exit, and rapid delamination toward proto-islet clusters. This model posits a transient Neurog3 expression state and short epithelial residence period. We show, however, that a Neurog3(TA.LO) cell population, defined as Neurog3 transcriptionally active and Sox9(+) and often containing nonimmunodetectable Neurog3 protein, has a relatively high mitotic index and prolonged epithelial residency. We propose that this endocrine-biased mitotic progenitor state is functionally separated from a pro-ductal pool and endows them with long-term capacity to make endocrine fate-directed progeny. A novel BAC transgenic Neurog3 reporter detected two types of mitotic behavior in Sox9(+) Neurog3(TA.LO) progenitors, associated with progenitor pool maintenance or derivation of endocrine-committed Neurog3(HI) cells, respectively. Moreover, limiting Neurog3 expression dramatically increased the proportional representation of Sox9(+) Neurog3(TA.LO) progenitors, with a doubling of its mitotic index relative to normal Neurog3 expression, suggesting that low Neurog3 expression is a defining feature of this cycling endocrine-biased state. We propose that Sox9(+) Neurog3(TA.LO) endocrine-biased progenitors feed production of Neurog3(HI) endocrine-committed cells during pancreas organogenesis.
© 2016 Bechard et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
Methylmercury (MeHg) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant and neurotoxin, particularly hazardous to developing and young individuals. MeHg neurotoxicity during early development has been shown to be sex-dependent via disturbances in redox homeostasis, a key event mediating MeHg neurotoxicity. Therefore, we investigated if MeHg-induced changes in key systems of antioxidant defense are sex-dependent. C57BL/6J mice were exposed to MeHg during the gestational and lactational periods, modeling human prenatal and neonatal exposure routes. Dams were exposed to 5ppm MeHg via drinking water from early gestational period until postnatal day 21 (PND21). On PND21 a pair of siblings (a female and a male) from multiple (5-6) litters were euthanized and tissue samples were taken for analysis. Cytoplasmic and nuclear extracts were isolated from fresh cerebrum and cerebellum and used to determine thioredoxin (Trx) and glutathione (GSH) levels, as well as thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activities. The remaining tissue was used for mRNA analysis. MeHg-induced antioxidant response was not uniform for all the analyzed antioxidant molecules, and sexual dimorphism in response to MeHg treatment was evident for TrxR, Trx and GPx. The pattern of response, namely a decrease in males and an increase in females, may impart differential and sex-specific susceptibility to MeHg. GSH levels were unchanged in MeHg treated animals and irrespective of sex. Trx was reduced only in nuclear extracts from male cerebella, exemplifying a structure-specific response. Results from the gene expression analysis suggest posttranscriptional mechanism of sex-specific regulation of the antioxidant response upon MeHg treatment. The study demonstrates for the first time sex-and structure-specific changes in the response of the thioredoxin system to MeHg neurotoxicity and suggests that these differences in antioxidant responses might impart differential susceptibility to developmental MeHg exposure.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The zebrafish pineal complex consists of four cell types (rod and cone photoreceptors, projection neurons and parapineal neurons) that are derived from a single pineal complex anlage. After specification, parapineal neurons migrate unilaterally away from the rest of the pineal complex whereas rods, cones and projection neurons are non-migratory. The transcription factor Tbx2b is important for both the correct number and migration of parapineal neurons. We find that two additional transcription factors, Flh and Nr2e3, negatively regulate parapineal formation. Flh induces non-migratory neuron fates and limits the extent of parapineal specification, in part by activation of Nr2e3 expression. Tbx2b is positively regulated by Flh, but opposes Flh action during specification of parapineal neurons. Loss of parapineal neuron specification in Tbx2b-deficient embryos can be partially rescued by loss of Nr2e3 or Flh function; however, parapineal migration absolutely requires Tbx2b activity. We conclude that cell specification and migration in the pineal complex are regulated by a network of at least three transcription factors.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
Pdx1 and Oc1 are co-expressed in multipotent pancreatic progenitors and regulate the pro-endocrine gene Neurog3. Their expression diverges in later organogenesis, with Oc1 absent from hormone+ cells and Pdx1 maintained in mature β cells. In a classical genetic test for cooperative functional interactions, we derived mice with combined Pdx1 and Oc1 heterozygosity. Endocrine development in double-heterozygous pancreata was normal at embryonic day (E)13.5, but defects in specification and differentiation were apparent at E15.5, the height of the second wave of differentiation. Pancreata from double heterozygotes showed alterations in the expression of genes crucial for β-cell development and function, decreased numbers and altered allocation of Neurog3-expressing endocrine progenitors, and defective endocrine differentiation. Defects in islet gene expression and β-cell function persisted in double heterozygous neonates. These results suggest that Oc1 and Pdx1 cooperate prior to their divergence, in pancreatic progenitors, to allow for proper differentiation and functional maturation of β cells.
Published by Elsevier Inc.
Wnt/β-catenin signalling directs fundamental processes during metazoan development and can be aberrantly activated in cancer. Wnt stimulation induces the recruitment of the scaffold protein Axin from an inhibitory destruction complex to a stimulatory signalosome. Here we analyse the early effects of Wnt on Axin and find that the ADP-ribose polymerase Tankyrase (Tnks)--known to target Axin for proteolysis-regulates Axin's rapid transition following Wnt stimulation. We demonstrate that the pool of ADP-ribosylated Axin, which is degraded under basal conditions, increases immediately following Wnt stimulation in both Drosophila and human cells. ADP-ribosylation of Axin enhances its interaction with the Wnt co-receptor LRP6, an essential step in signalosome assembly. We suggest that in addition to controlling Axin levels, Tnks-dependent ADP-ribosylation promotes the reprogramming of Axin following Wnt stimulation; and propose that Tnks inhibition blocks Wnt signalling not only by increasing destruction complex activity, but also by impeding signalosome assembly.
Intensive efforts are focused on identifying regulators of human pancreatic islet cell growth and maturation to accelerate development of therapies for diabetes. After birth, islet cell growth and function are dynamically regulated; however, establishing these age-dependent changes in humans has been challenging. Here, we describe a multimodal strategy for isolating pancreatic endocrine and exocrine cells from children and adults to identify age-dependent gene expression and chromatin changes on a genomic scale. These profiles revealed distinct proliferative and functional states of islet α cells or β cells and histone modifications underlying age-dependent gene expression changes. Expression of SIX2 and SIX3, transcription factors without prior known functions in the pancreas and linked to fasting hyperglycemia risk, increased with age specifically in human islet β cells. SIX2 and SIX3 were sufficient to enhance insulin content or secretion in immature β cells. Our work provides a unique resource to study human-specific regulators of islet cell maturation and function.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.