Formation of multiple hearts in mice following deletion of beta-catenin in the embryonic endoderm.
ABSTRACT Using Cre/loxP, we conditionally inactivated the beta-catenin gene in cells of structures that exhibit important embryonic organizer functions: the visceral endoderm, the node, the notochord, and the definitive endoderm. Mesoderm formation was not affected in the mutant embryos, but the node was missing, patterning of the head and trunk was affected, and no notochord or somites were formed. Surprisingly, deletion of beta-catenin in the definitive endoderm led to the formation of multiple hearts all along the anterior-posterior (A/P) axis of the embryo. Ectopic hearts developed in parallel with the normal heart in regions of ectopic Bmp2 expression. We provide evidence that ablation of beta-catenin in embryonic endoderm changes cell fate from endoderm to precardiac mesoderm, consistent with the existence of bipotential mesendodermal progenitors in mouse embryos.
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ABSTRACT: The Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway controls important cellular events during development and often contributes to disease when dysregulated. Using high throughput screening we have identified a new small molecule inhibitor of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling, WIKI4. WIKI4 inhibits expression of ß-catenin target genes and cellular responses to Wnt/ß-catenin signaling in cancer cell lines as well as in human embryonic stem cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that WIKI4 mediates its effects on Wnt/ß-catenin signaling by inhibiting the enzymatic activity of TNKS2, a regulator of AXIN ubiquitylation and degradation. While TNKS has previously been shown to be the target of small molecule inhibitors of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling, WIKI4 is structurally distinct from previously identified TNKS inhibitors.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(12):e50457. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Rac1-dependent collective cell migration is required for specification of the anterior-posterior body axis of the mouse.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Cell migration and cell rearrangements are critical for establishment of the body plan of vertebrate embryos. The first step in organization of the body plan of the mouse embryo, specification of the anterior-posterior body axis, depends on migration of the anterior visceral endoderm from the distal tip of the embryo to a more proximal region overlying the future head. The anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) is a cluster of extra-embryonic cells that secretes inhibitors of the Wnt and Nodal pathways to inhibit posterior development. Because Rac proteins are crucial regulators of cell migration and mouse Rac1 mutants die early in development, we tested whether Rac1 plays a role in AVE migration. Here we show that Rac1 mutant embryos fail to specify an anterior-posterior axis and, instead, express posterior markers in a ring around the embryonic circumference. Cells that express the molecular markers of the AVE are properly specified in Rac1 mutants but remain at the distal tip of the embryo at the time when migration should take place. Using tissue specific deletions, we show that Rac1 acts autonomously within the visceral endoderm to promote cell migration. High-resolution imaging shows that the leading wild-type AVE cells extend long lamellar protrusions that span several cell diameters and are polarized in the direction of cell movement. These projections are tipped by filopodia-like structures that appear to sample the environment. Wild-type AVE cells display hallmarks of collective cell migration: they retain tight and adherens junctions as they migrate and exchange neighbors within the plane of the visceral endoderm epithelium. Analysis of mutant embryos shows that Rac1 is not required for intercellular signaling, survival, proliferation, or adhesion in the visceral endoderm but is necessary for the ability of visceral endoderm cells to extend projections, change shape, and exchange neighbors. The data show that Rac1-mediated epithelial migration of the AVE is a crucial step in the establishment of the mammalian body plan and suggest that Rac1 is essential for collective migration in mammalian tissues.PLoS Biology 01/2010; 8(8):e1000442. · 11.45 Impact Factor
Article: Wnt11 promotes cardiomyocyte development by caspase-mediated suppression of canonical Wnt signals.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Specification and early patterning of the vertebrate heart are dependent on both canonical and noncanonical wingless (Wnt) signal pathways. However, the impact of each Wnt pathway on the later stages of myocardial development and differentiation remains controversial. Here, we report that the components of each Wnt signal conduit are expressed in the developing and postnatal heart, yet canonical/β-catenin activity is restricted to nonmyocardial regions. Subsequently, we observed that noncanonical Wnt (Wnt11) enhanced myocyte differentiation while preventing stabilization of the β-catenin protein, suggesting active repression of canonical Wnt signals. Wnt11 stimulation was synonymous with activation of a caspase 3 signal cascade, while inhibition of caspase activity led to accumulation of β-catenin and a dramatic reduction in myocyte differentiation. Taken together, these results suggest that noncanonical Wnt signals promote myocyte maturation through caspase-mediated inhibition of β-catenin activity.Molecular and cellular biology 11/2010; 31(1):163-78. · 6.06 Impact Factor