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Aberrant activation of the Wnt signaling pathway is causally involved in the formation of most colorectal cancers (CRCs). Although detailed knowledge exists regarding Wnt-regulated protein-coding genes, much less is known about the possible involvement of non-coding RNAs. Here we used TaqMan Array MicroRNA Cards, capable of detecting 664 unique human microRNAs (miRNAs), to describe changes of the miRNA transcriptome following disruption of beta-catenin/TCF4 activity in DLD1 CRC cells. Most miRNAs appeared to respond independent of host gene regulation and proximal TCF4 chromatin occupancy as inferred from expression microarray and ChIP-chip data. A module of miRNAs induced by abrogated Wnt signaling in vitro was downregulated in two independent series of human primary CRCs (n=76) relative to normal adjacent mucosa (n=34). Several of these miRNAs (miR-145, miR-126, miR-30e-3p and miR-139-5p) markedly inhibited CRC cell growth in vitro when ectopically expressed. By using an integrative approach of proteomics and expression microarrays, we found numerous mRNAs and proteins to be affected by ectopic miR-30e-3p levels. This included HELZ and PIK3C2A that were directly repressed by several miRNA binding sites as confirmed by luciferase reporter assays in combination with mutational analyses. Finally, small interfering RNA-mediated downregulation of PIK3C2A, but not HELZ, was sufficient on its own to restrict CRC cell growth. Collectively, our study demonstrates that multiple miRNAs are upregulated as a consequence of forced attenuation of Wnt signaling in CRC cells, and some of these miRNAs inhibit cell growth with concomitant suppression of several growth-stimulatory cancer-related genes.
The neural crest is a stem cell-like population exclusive to vertebrates that gives rise to many different cell types including chondrocytes, neurons and melanocytes. Arising from the neural plate border at the intersection of Wnt and Bmp signaling pathways, the complexity of neural crest gene regulatory networks has made the earliest steps of induction difficult to elucidate. Here, we report that tfap2a and foxd3 participate in neural crest induction and are necessary and sufficient for this process to proceed. Double mutant tfap2a (mont blanc, mob) and foxd3 (mother superior, mos) mob;mos zebrafish embryos completely lack all neural crest-derived tissues. Moreover, tfap2a and foxd3 are expressed during gastrulation prior to neural crest induction in distinct, complementary, domains; tfap2a is expressed in the ventral non-neural ectoderm and foxd3 in the dorsal mesendoderm and ectoderm. We further show that Bmp signaling is expanded in mob;mos embryos while expression of dkk1, a Wnt signaling inhibitor, is increased and canonical Wnt targets are suppressed. These changes in Bmp and Wnt signaling result in specific perturbations of neural crest induction rather than general defects in neural plate border or dorso-ventral patterning. foxd3 overexpression, on the other hand, enhances the ability of tfap2a to ectopically induce neural crest around the neural plate, overriding the normal neural plate border limit of the early neural crest territory. Although loss of either Tfap2a or Foxd3 alters Bmp and Wnt signaling patterns, only their combined inactivation sufficiently alters these signaling gradients to abort neural crest induction. Collectively, our results indicate that tfap2a and foxd3, in addition to their respective roles in the differentiation of neural crest derivatives, also jointly maintain the balance of Bmp and Wnt signaling in order to delineate the neural crest induction domain.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells give rise to mesodermal progenitors that differentiate to hematopoietic and cardiovascular cells. The wnt signaling pathway plays multiple roles in cardiovascular development through a network of intracellular effectors. To monitor global changes in wnt signaling during ES cell differentiation, we generated independent ES cell lines carrying the luciferase gene under promoters that uniquely respond to specific wnt pathway branches. Our results show that successive, mutually exclusive waves of noncanonical and canonical wnt signaling precede mesoderm differentiation. Blocking the initial noncanonical JNK/AP-1 signaling with SP60125 aborts cardiovascular differentiation and promotes hematopoiesis, whereas interference with the subsequent peak of canonical wnt signaling using Dkk1 has the opposite effect. Dkk1 blockade triggers counter mechanisms that lead to delayed and extended activation of canonical wnt signaling and mesoderm differentiation that appear to favor the cardiomyocytic lineage at the expense of hematopoietic cells. The cardiomyocytic yield can be further enhanced by overexpression of Wnt11 leading to approximately 95-fold enrichment in contracting cells. Our results suggest that the initial noncanonical wnt signaling is necessary for subsequent activation of canonical signaling and that the latter operates under a regulatory loop which responds to suppression with hyperactivation of compensatory mechanisms. This model provides new insights on wnt signaling during ES cell differentiation and points to a method to induce cardiomyocytic differentiation without precise timing of wnt signaling manipulation. Taking into account the heterogeneity of pluripotent cells, these findings might present an advantage to enhance the cardiogenic potential of stem cells.
Misregulation of the Wnt pathway has been shown to be responsible for a variety of human diseases, most notably cancers. Screens for inhibitors of this pathway have been performed almost exclusively using cultured mammalian cells or with purified proteins. We have previously developed a biochemical assay using Xenopus egg extracts to recapitulate key cytoplasmic events in the Wnt pathway. Using this biochemical system, we show that a recombinant form of the Wnt coreceptor, LRP6, regulates the stability of two key components of the Wnt pathway (β-catenin and Axin) in opposing fashion. We have now fused β-catenin and Axin to firefly and Renilla luciferase, respectively, and demonstrate that the fusion proteins behave similarly as their wild-type counterparts. Using this dual luciferase readout, we adapted the Xenopus extracts system for high-throughput screening. Results from these screens demonstrate signal distribution curves that reflect the complexity of the library screened. Of several compounds identified as cytoplasmic modulators of the Wnt pathway, one was further validated as a bona fide inhibitor of the Wnt pathway in cultured mammalian cells and Xenopus embryos. We show that other embryonic pathways may be amendable to screening for inhibitors/modulators in Xenopus egg extracts.
BACKGROUND - Administration of cocaine during adolescence alters neurotransmission and behavioral sensitization in adulthood, but the effect on the acquisition of fear memories and the development of emotion-based neuronal circuits is unknown.
METHODS - We examined fear learning and anxiety-related behaviors in adult male rats that were subjected to binge cocaine treatment during adolescence. We furthermore conducted gene expression analyses of the amygdala 22 hours after the last cocaine injection to identify molecular patterns that might lead to altered emotional processing.
RESULTS - Rats injected with cocaine during adolescence displayed less anxiety in adulthood than their vehicle-injected counterparts. In addition, cocaine-exposed animals were deficient in their ability to develop contextual fear responses. Cocaine administration caused transient gene expression changes in the Wnt signaling pathway, of axon guidance molecules, and of synaptic proteins, suggesting that cocaine perturbs dendritic structures and synapses in the amygdala. Phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta, a kinase in the Wnt signaling pathway, was altered immediately following the binge cocaine paradigm and returned to normal levels 22 hours after the last cocaine injection.
CONCLUSIONS - Cocaine exposure during adolescence leads to molecular changes in the amygdala and decreases fear learning and anxiety in adulthood.
Copyright © 2011 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.