Notch and Ras promote sequential steps of excretory tube development in C. elegans.
ABSTRACT Receptor tyrosine kinases and Notch are crucial for tube formation and branching morphogenesis in many systems, but the specific cellular processes that require signaling are poorly understood. Here we describe sequential roles for Notch and Epidermal growth factor (EGF)-Ras-ERK signaling in the development of epithelial tube cells in the C. elegans excretory (renal-like) organ. This simple organ consists of three tandemly connected unicellular tubes: the excretory canal cell, duct and G1 pore. lin-12 and glp-1/Notch are required to generate the canal cell, which is a source of LIN-3/EGF ligand and physically attaches to the duct during de novo epithelialization and tubulogenesis. Canal cell asymmetry and let-60/Ras signaling influence which of two equivalent precursors will attach to the canal cell. Ras then specifies duct identity, inducing auto-fusion and a permanent epithelial character; the remaining precursor becomes the G1 pore, which eventually loses epithelial character and withdraws from the organ to become a neuroblast. Ras continues to promote subsequent aspects of duct morphogenesis and differentiation, and acts primarily through Raf-ERK and the transcriptional effectors LIN-1/Ets and EOR-1. These results reveal multiple genetically separable roles for Ras signaling in tube development, as well as similarities to Ras-mediated control of branching morphogenesis in more complex organs, including the mammalian kidney. The relative simplicity of the excretory system makes it an attractive model for addressing basic questions about how cells gain or lose epithelial character and organize into tubular networks.
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ABSTRACT: The coupling of transgenes to heat shock promoters is a widely applied method for regulating gene expression. In Caenorhabditis elegans gene induction can be controlled temporally through timing of heat shock, and spatially via targeted rescue in heat shock mutants. Here we present a method for evoking gene expression in arbitrary cells, with single-cell resolution. We use a focused pulsed infrared laser to locally induce a heat shock response in specific cells. Our method builds on and extends a previously reported method using a continuous-wave laser. In our technique the pulsed laser illumination enables a much higher degree of spatial selectivity due to diffusion of heat between pulses. We apply our method to induce transient and long-term transgene expression in embryonic, larval, and adult cells. Our method allows highly selective spatiotemporal control of transgene expression and is a powerful tool for model organism biology.G3-Genes Genomes Genetics 08/2013; 3(10). DOI:10.1534/g3.113.007682 · 2.51 Impact Factor
- WormBook 07/2013; DOI:10.1895/wormbook.1.80.2
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ABSTRACT: Cells perform wide varieties of functions that are facilitated, in part, by adopting unique shapes. Many of the genes and pathways that promote cell fate specification have been elucidated. However, relatively few transcription factors have been identified that promote shape acquisition after fate specification. Here we show that the Nkx5/HMX homeodomain protein MLS-2 is required for cellular elongation and shape maintenance of two tubular epithelial cells in the C. elegans excretory system, the duct and pore cells. The Nkx5/HMX family is highly conserved from sea urchins to humans, with known roles in neuronal and glial development. MLS-2 is expressed in the duct and pore, and defects in mls-2 mutants first arise when the duct and pore normally adopt unique shapes. MLS-2 cooperates with the EGF-Ras-ERK pathway to turn on the LIN-48/Ovo transcription factor in the duct cell during morphogenesis. These results reveal a novel interaction between the Nkx5/HMX family and the EGF-Ras pathway and implicate a transcription factor, MLS-2, as a regulator of cell shape.Developmental Biology 04/2012; 366(2):298-307. DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2012.03.015 · 3.64 Impact Factor