Aida Di-Gregorio

Imperial College London, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (5)42.72 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A fundamental question in developmental biology is whether there are mechanisms to detect stem cells with mutations that, although not adversely affecting viability, would compromise their ability to contribute to further development. Here, we show that cell competition is a mechanism regulating the fitness of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We find that ESCs displaying defective bone morphogenetic protein signaling or defective autophagy or that are tetraploid are eliminated at the onset of differentiation by wild-type cells. This elimination occurs in an apoptosis-dependent manner and is mediated by secreted factors. Furthermore, during this process, we find that establishment of differential c-Myc levels is critical and that c-Myc overexpression is sufficient to induce competitive behavior in ESCs. Cell competition is, therefore, a process that allows recognition and elimination of defective cells during the early stages of development and is likely to play important roles in tissue homeostasis and stem cell maintenance.
    Developmental Cell 07/2013; 26(1):19-30. · 12.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During development, the growth of the embryo must be coupled to its patterning to ensure correct and timely morphogenesis. In the mouse embryo, migration of the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) to the prospective anterior establishes the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis. By analysing the distribution of cells in S phase, M phase and G2 from the time just prior to the migration of the AVE until 18 hours after its movement, we show that there is no evidence for differential proliferation along the A-P axis of the mouse embryo. Rather, we have identified that as AVE movements are being initiated, the epiblast proliferates at a much higher rate than the visceral endoderm. We show that these high levels of proliferation in the epiblast are dependent on Nodal signalling and are required for A-P establishment, as blocking cell division in the epiblast inhibits AVE migration. Interestingly, inhibition of migration by blocking proliferation can be rescued by Dkk1. This suggests that the high levels of epiblast proliferation function to move the prospective AVE away from signals that are inhibitory to its migration. The finding that initiation of AVE movements requires a certain level of proliferation in the epiblast provides a mechanism whereby A-P axis development is coordinated with embryonic growth.
    Development 04/2011; 138(8):1521-30. · 6.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The two first cell fate decisions taken in the mammalian embryo generate three distinct cell lineages: one embryonic, the epiblast, and two extraembryonic, the trophoblast and primitive endoderm. miRNAs are essential for early development, but it is not known if they are utilized in the same way in these three lineages. We find that in the pluripotent epiblast they inhibit apoptosis by blocking the expression of the proapoptotic protein Bcl2l11 (Bim) but play little role in the initiation of gastrulation. In contrast, in the trophectoderm, miRNAs maintain the trophoblast stem cell compartment by directly inhibiting expression of Cdkn1a (p21) and Cdkn1c (p57), and in the primitive endoderm, they prevent differentiation by maintaining ERK1/2 phosphorylation through blocking the expression of Mapk inhibitors. Therefore, we show that there are fundamental differences in how stem cells maintain their developmental potential in embryonic and extraembryonic tissues through miRNAs.
    Developmental Cell 08/2010; 19(2):207-19. · 12.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During early mouse development, two extra-embryonic lineages form alongside the future embryo: the trophectoderm (TE) and the primitive endoderm (PrE). Epigenetic changes known to take place during these early stages include changes in DNA methylation and modified histones, as well as dynamic changes in gene expression. In order to understand the role and extent of chromatin-based changes for lineage commitment within the embryo, we examined the epigenetic profiles of mouse embryonic stem (ES), trophectoderm stem (TS) and extra-embryonic endoderm (XEN) stem cell lines that were derived from the inner cell mass (ICM), TE and PrE, respectively. As an initial indicator of the chromatin state, we assessed the replication timing of a cohort of genes in each cell type, based on data that expressed genes and acetylated chromatin domains, generally, replicate early in S-phase, whereas some silent genes, hypoacetylated or condensed chromatin tend to replicate later. We found that many lineage-specific genes replicate early in ES, TS and XEN cells, which was consistent with a broadly 'accessible' chromatin that was reported previously for multiple ES cell lines. Close inspection of these profiles revealed differences between ES, TS and XEN cells that were consistent with their differing lineage affiliations and developmental potential. A comparative analysis of modified histones at the promoters of individual genes showed that in TS and ES cells many lineage-specific regulator genes are co-marked with modifications associated with active (H4ac, H3K4me2, H3K9ac) and repressive (H3K27me3) chromatin. However, in XEN cells several of these genes were marked solely by repressive modifications (such as H3K27me3, H4K20me3). Consistent with TS and XEN having a restricted developmental potential, we show that these cells selectively reprogramme somatic cells to induce the de novo expression of genes associated with extraembryonic differentiation. These data provide evidence that the diversification of defined embryonic and extra-embryonic lineages is accompanied by chromatin remodelling at specific loci. Stem cell lines from the ICM, TE and PrE can each dominantly reprogramme somatic cells but reset gene expression differently, reflecting their separate lineage identities and increasingly restricted developmental potentials.
    Epigenetics & Chromatin 01/2010; 3:1. · 4.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The specification of a subset of epiblast cells to acquire a neural fate constitutes the first step in the generation of the nervous system. Little is known about the signals required for neural induction in the mouse. We have analysed the role of BMP signalling in this process. We demonstrate that prior to gastrulation, Bmp2/4 signalling via Bmpr1a maintains epiblast pluripotency and prevents precocious neural differentiation of this tissue, at least in part by maintaining Nodal signalling. We find that during gastrulation, BMPs of the 60A subgroup cooperate with Bmp2/4 to maintain pluripotency. The inhibition of neural fate by BMPs is independent of FGF signalling, as inhibition of FGF signalling between 5.5 and 7.5 days post-coitum does not block neural differentiation in the mouse embryo. Together, our results demonstrate that inhibition of BMP signalling has a central role during neural induction in mammals and suggest that FGFs do not act as neural inducers in the post-implantation mouse embryo.
    Development 10/2007; 134(18):3359-69. · 6.21 Impact Factor