[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Muscle-specific miR-1/206 and miR-133 families have been suggested to play fundamental roles in skeletal and cardiac myogenesis in vertebrates. To gain insights into the relationships between the divergence of these miRs and muscular tissue types, we investigated the expression patterns of miR-1 and miR-133 in two ascidian Ciona species and compared their genomic structures with those of other chordates. We found that C. intestinalis and C. savignyi each possess a single copy of the miR-1/miR-133 cluster, which is only 350 nucleotide long. During embryogenesis, Ciona miR-1 and miR-133 are generated as a single continuous primary transcript accumulated in the nuclei of the tail muscle cells, starting at the gastrula stage. In adults, mature miR-133 and miR-1 are differentially expressed in the heart and body wall muscle. Expression of the reporter gene linked to the 850-bp upstream region of the predicted transcription start site confirmed that this region drives the muscle-specific expression of the primary transcript of miR-1/miR-133. In many deuterostome lineages, including that of Ciona, the miR-1/133 cluster is located in the same intron of the mind bomb (mib) gene in reverse orientation. Our results suggest that the origin of genomic organization and muscle-specific regulation of miR-1/133 can be traced back to the ancestor of chordates. Duplication of this miR cluster might have led to the remarkable elaboration in the morphology and function of skeletal muscles in the vertebrate lineage.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The function of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling in dorsoventral (DV) patterning of animal embryos is conserved among Bilateria. In vertebrates, the BMP ligand antidorsalizing morphogenetic protein (Admp) is expressed dorsally and moves to the opposite side to specify the ventral fate. Here, we show that Pinhead is an antagonist specific for Admp with a role in establishing the DV axis of the trunk epidermis in embryos of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. Pinhead and Admp exist in tandem in the genomes of various animals from arthropods to vertebrates. This genomic configuration is important for mutually exclusive expression of these genes, because Pinhead transcription directly disturbs the action of the Admp enhancer. Our data suggest that this dual negative regulatory mechanism is widely conserved in animals.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The retina of craniates/vertebrates has been proposed to derive from a photoreceptor prosencephalic territory in ancestral chordates, but the evolutionary origin of the different cell types making the retina is disputed. Except for photoreceptors, the existence of homologs of retinal cells remains uncertain outside vertebrates.
The expression of genes expressed in the sensory vesicle of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis including those encoding components of the monoaminergic neurotransmission systems, was analyzed by in situ hybridization or in vivo transfection of the corresponding regulatory elements driving fluorescent reporters. Modulation of photic responses by monoamines was studied by electrophysiology combined with pharmacological treatments.
We show that many molecular characteristics of dopamine-synthesizing cells located in the vicinity of photoreceptors in the sensory vesicle of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis are similar to those of amacrine dopamine cells of the vertebrate retina. The ascidian dopamine cells share with vertebrate amacrine cells the expression of the key-transcription factor Ptf1a, as well as that of dopamine-synthesizing enzymes. Surprisingly, the ascidian dopamine cells accumulate serotonin via a functional serotonin transporter, as some amacrine cells also do. Moreover, dopamine cells located in the vicinity of the photoreceptors modulate the light-off induced swimming behavior of ascidian larvae by acting on alpha2-like receptors, instead of dopamine receptors, supporting a role in the modulation of the photic response. These cells are located in a territory of the ascidian sensory vesicle expressing genes found both in the retina and the hypothalamus of vertebrates (six3/6, Rx, meis, pax6, visual cycle proteins).
We propose that the dopamine cells of the ascidian larva derive from an ancestral multifunctional cell population located in the periventricular, photoreceptive field of the anterior neural tube of chordates, which also gives rise to both anterior hypothalamus and the retina in craniates/vertebrates. It also shows that the existence of multiple cell types associated with photic responses predates the formation of the vertebrate retina.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tunicate Ciona intestinalis larva has a simple central nervous system (CNS), consisting of fewer than 400 cells, which is homologous to the vertebrate CNS. Recent studies have revealed neuronal types and networks in the larval CNS of C. intestinalis, yet their cell lineage and the molecular mechanism by which particular types of neurons are specified and differentiate remain poorly understood. Here, we report cell lineage origin and a cis-regulatory module for the anterior caudal inhibitory neurons (ACINs), a putative component of the central pattern generator regulating swimming locomotion. The vesicular GABA⁄ glycine transporter gene Ci-VGAT, a specific marker for GABAergic ⁄ glycinergic neurons, is expressed in distinct sets of neurons, including ACINs of the tail nerve cord and others in the brain vesicle and motor ganglion. Comparative genomics analysis between C. intestinalis and Ciona savignyi and functional analysis in vivo identified the cis-regulatory module responsible for Ci-VGAT expression in ACINs. Our cell lineage analyses inferred that ACINs derive from A11.116 cells, which have been thought to solely give rise to glial ependymal cells of the lateral wall of the nerve cord. The present findings will provide a solid basis for future studies addressing the molecular mechanism underlying specification of ACINs, which play a critical role in controlling larval locomotion
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endocrine and neuroendocrine systems for reproductive functions have diversified as a result of the generation of species-specific paralogs of peptide hormones and their receptors including GnRH and their receptors (GnRHR), which belong to the class A G protein-coupled receptor family. A protochordate, Ciona intestinalis, has been found to possess seven GnRH (tGnRH-3 to -8 and Ci-GnRH-X) and four GnRHR (Ci-GnRHR1 to -4). Moreover, Ci-GnRHR4 (R4) does not bind to any Ciona GnRH and activate any signaling pathways. Here we show novel functional diversification of GnRH signaling pathways via G protein-coupled receptor heterodimerization among Ciona GnRHR. R4 was shown to heterodimerize with R2 specifically in test cells of vitellogenic oocytes by coimmunoprecipitation. The R2-R4 heterodimerization in human embryonic kidney 293 cells cotransfected with R2 and R4 was also observed by coimmunoprecipitation and fluorescent energy transfer analyses. Of particular interest is that the R2-R4 heterodimer decreases the cAMP production in a nonligand-selective manner via shift of activation of Gs protein to Gi protein by R2, compared with R2 monomer/homodimer. Considering that the R1-R4 heterodimer elicits 10-fold more potent Ca²⁺ mobilization than R1 monomer/homodimer in a ligand-selective manner but does not affect cAMP production, these results indicate that R4 regulates differential GnRH signaling cascades via heterodimerization with R1 and R2 as an endogenous allosteric modulator. Collectively, the present study suggests that the heterodimerization among GnRHR paralogs, including the species-specific orphan receptor subtype, is involved in rigorous and diversified GnRHergic signaling of the protochordate, which lacks a hypothalamus-pituitary gonad axis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is a neuroendocrine peptide that plays a central role in the vertebrate hypothalamo-pituitary axis. The roles of GnRH in the control of vertebrate reproductive functions have been established, while its non-reproductive function has been suggested but less well understood. Here we show that the tunicate Ciona intestinalis has in its non-reproductive larval stage a prominent GnRH system spanning the entire length of the nervous system. Tunicate GnRH receptors are phylogenetically closest to vertebrate GnRH receptors, yet functional analysis of the receptors revealed that these simple chordates have evolved a unique GnRH system with multiple ligands and receptor heterodimerization enabling complex regulation. One of the gnrh genes is conspicuously expressed in the motor ganglion and nerve cord, which are homologous structures to the hindbrain and spinal cord of vertebrates. Correspondingly, GnRH receptor genes were found to be expressed in the tail muscle and notochord of embryos, both of which are phylotypic axial structures along the nerve cord. Our findings suggest a novel non-reproductive role of GnRH in tunicates. Furthermore, we present evidence that GnRH-producing cells are present in the hindbrain and spinal cord of the medaka, Oryzias latipes, thereby suggesting the deep evolutionary origin of a non-reproductive GnRH system in chordates.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e41955. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CpG islands are observed in mammals and other vertebrates, generally escape DNA methylation, and tend to occur in the promoters of widely expressed genes. Another class of promoter has lower G+C and CpG contents, and is thought to be involved in the spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression. Non-vertebrate deuterostomes are reported to have a single class of promoter with high-frequency CpG dinucleotides, suggesting that this is the original type of promoter. However, the limited annotation of these genes has impeded the large-scale analysis of their promoters.
To determine the origins of the two classes of vertebrate promoters, we chose Ciona intestinalis, an invertebrate that is evolutionarily close to the vertebrates, and identified its transcription start sites genome-wide using a next-generation sequencer. We indeed observed a high CpG content around the transcription start sites, but their levels in the promoters and background sequences differed much less than in mammals. The CpG-rich stretches were also fairly restricted, so they appeared more similar to mammalian CpG-poor promoters.
From these data, we infer that CpG islands are not sufficiently ancient to be found in invertebrates. They probably appeared early in vertebrate evolution via some active mechanism and have since been maintained as part of vertebrate promoters.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) is a frequent cause of end-stage renal failure. Identification of single-gene causes of SRNS has generated some insights into its pathogenesis; however, additional genes and disease mechanisms remain obscure, and SRNS continues to be treatment refractory. Here we have identified 6 different mutations in coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis monooxygenase 6 (COQ6) in 13 individuals from 7 families by homozygosity mapping. Each mutation was linked to early-onset SRNS with sensorineural deafness. The deleterious effects of these human COQ6 mutations were validated by their lack of complementation in coq6-deficient yeast. Furthermore, knockdown of Coq6 in podocyte cell lines and coq6 in zebrafish embryos caused apoptosis that was partially reversed by coenzyme Q10 treatment. In rats, COQ6 was located within cell processes and the Golgi apparatus of renal glomerular podocytes and in stria vascularis cells of the inner ear, consistent with an oto-renal disease phenotype. These data suggest that coenzyme Q10-related forms of SRNS and hearing loss can be molecularly identified and potentially treated.
The Journal of clinical investigation 05/2011; 121(5):2013-24. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In ascidian tunicates, the metamorphic transition from larva to adult is accompanied by dynamic changes in the body plan. For instance, the central nervous system (CNS) is subjected to extensive rearrangement because its regulating larval organs are lost and new adult organs are created. To understand how the adult CNS is reconstructed, we traced the fate of larval CNS cells during ascidian metamorphosis by using transgenic animals and imaging technologies with photoconvertible fluorescent proteins. Here we show that most parts of the ascidian larval CNS, except for the tail nerve cord, are maintained during metamorphosis and recruited to form the adult CNS. We also show that most of the larval neurons disappear and only a subset of cholinergic motor neurons and glutamatergic neurons are retained. Finally, we demonstrate that ependymal cells of the larval CNS contribute to the construction of the adult CNS and that some differentiate into neurons in the adult CNS. An unexpected role of ependymal cells highlighted by this study is that they serve as neural stem-like cells to reconstruct the adult nervous network during chordate metamorphosis. Consequently, the plasticity of non-neuronal ependymal cells and neuronal cells in chordates should be re-examined by future studies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In conventionally-expressed eukaryotic genes, transcription start sites (TSSs) can be identified by mapping the mature mRNA 5'-terminal sequence onto the genome. However, this approach is not applicable to genes that undergo pre-mRNA 5'-leader trans-splicing (SL trans-splicing) because the original 5'-segment of the primary transcript is replaced by the spliced leader sequence during the trans-splicing reaction and is discarded. Thus TSS mapping for trans-spliced genes requires different approaches. We describe two such approaches and show that they generate precisely agreeing results for an SL trans-spliced gene encoding the muscle protein troponin I in the ascidian tunicate chordate Ciona intestinalis. One method is based on experimental deletion of trans-splice acceptor sites and the other is based on high-throughput mRNA 5'-RACE sequence analysis of natural RNA populations in order to detect minor transcripts containing the pre-mRNA's original 5'-end. Both methods identified a single major troponin I TSS located ∼460 nt upstream of the trans-splice acceptor site. Further experimental analysis identified a functionally important TATA element 31 nt upstream of the start site. The two methods employed have complementary strengths and are broadly applicable to mapping promoters/TSSs for trans-spliced genes in tunicates and in trans-splicing organisms from other phyla.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2010; 39(7):2638-48. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Developmental biology aims to understand how the dynamics of embryonic shapes and organ functions are encoded in linear DNA molecules. Thanks to recent progress in genomics and imaging technologies, systemic approaches are now used in parallel with small-scale studies to establish links between genomic information and phenotypes, often described at the subcellular level. Current model organism databases, however, do not integrate heterogeneous data sets at different scales into a global view of the developmental program. Here, we present a novel, generic digital system, NISEED, and its implementation, ANISEED, to ascidians, which are invertebrate chordates suitable for developmental systems biology approaches. ANISEED hosts an unprecedented combination of anatomical and molecular data on ascidian development. This includes the first detailed anatomical ontologies for these embryos, and quantitative geometrical descriptions of developing cells obtained from reconstructed three-dimensional (3D) embryos up to the gastrula stages. Fully annotated gene model sets are linked to 30,000 high-resolution spatial gene expression patterns in wild-type and experimentally manipulated conditions and to 528 experimentally validated cis-regulatory regions imported from specialized databases or extracted from 160 literature articles. This highly structured data set can be explored via a Developmental Browser, a Genome Browser, and a 3D Virtual Embryo module. We show how integration of heterogeneous data in ANISEED can provide a system-level understanding of the developmental program through the automatic inference of gene regulatory interactions, the identification of inducing signals, and the discovery and explanation of novel asymmetric divisions.
Genome Research 10/2010; 20(10):1459-68. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The autosomal recessive kidney disease nephronophthisis (NPHP) constitutes the most frequent genetic cause of terminal renal failure in the first 3 decades of life. Ten causative genes (NPHP1-NPHP9 and NPHP11), whose products localize to the primary cilia-centrosome complex, support the unifying concept that cystic kidney diseases are "ciliopathies". Using genome-wide homozygosity mapping, we report here what we believe to be a new locus (NPHP-like 1 [NPHPL1]) for an NPHP-like nephropathy. In 2 families with an NPHP-like phenotype, we detected homozygous frameshift and splice-site mutations, respectively, in the X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3 (XPNPEP3) gene. In contrast to all known NPHP proteins, XPNPEP3 localizes to mitochondria of renal cells. However, in vivo analyses also revealed a likely cilia-related function; suppression of zebrafish xpnpep3 phenocopied the developmental phenotypes of ciliopathy morphants, and this effect was rescued by human XPNPEP3 that was devoid of a mitochondrial localization signal. Consistent with a role for XPNPEP3 in ciliary function, several ciliary cystogenic proteins were found to be XPNPEP3 substrates, for which resistance to N-terminal proline cleavage resulted in attenuated protein function in vivo in zebrafish. Our data highlight an emerging link between mitochondria and ciliary dysfunction, and suggest that further understanding the enzymatic activity and substrates of XPNPEP3 will illuminate novel cystogenic pathways.
The Journal of clinical investigation 02/2010; 120(3):791-802. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the Hedgehog (Hh) family are soluble ligands that orchestrate a wide spectrum of developmental processes ranging from left-right axis determination of the embryo to tissue patterning and organogenesis. Tunicates, including ascidians, are the closest relatives of vertebrates, and elucidation of Hh signaling in ascidians should provide an important clue towards better understanding the role of this pathway in development. In previous studies, expression patterns of genes encoding Hh and its downstream factor Gli have been examined up to the tailbud stage in the ascidian embryo, but their expression in the larva has not been reported. Here we show the spatial expression patterns of hedgehog (Ci-hh1, Ci-hh2), patched (Ci-ptc), smoothened (Ci-smo), and Gli (Ci-Gli) orthologs in larvae of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. The expression patterns of Ci-hh2 and Ci-Gli dramatically change during the period between the late tailbud embryo and the swimming larva. At the larval stage, expression of Ci-Gli was found in a central part of the endoderm and in the visceral ganglion, while Ci-hh2 was expressed in two discrete endodermal regions, anteriorly and posteriorly adjacent to the cells expressing Gli. The expression patterns of these genes suggest that the Hh ligand controls postembryonic development of the endoderm and the central nervous system. Expression of a gene encoding Hh in the anterior and/or pharyngeal endoderm is probably an ancient chordate character; diversification of regulation and targets of the Hh signaling in this region may have played a major role in the evolution of chordate body structures.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ascidian larva is an excellent model for studies of the functional organization and neuronal circuits of chordates due to its remarkably simple central nervous system (CNS), comprised of about 100 neurons. To date, however, the identities of the various neurons in the ascidian larva, particularly their neurotransmitter phenotypes, are not well established. Acetylcholine, GABA, and glycine are critical neurotransmitters for locomotion in many animals. We visualized putative cholinergic neurons and GABAergic/glycinergic neurons in the ascidian larva by immunofluorescent staining using antibodies against vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VACHT) and vesicular GABA/glycine transporter (VGAT), respectively. Neurons expressing a cholinergic phenotype were found in the brain vesicle and the visceral ganglion. Five pairs of VACHT-positive neurons were located in the visceral ganglion. These putative cholinergic neurons extended their axons posteriorly and formed nerve terminals proximal to the most anterior muscle cells in the tail. VGAT-positive neurons were located in the brain vesicle, the visceral ganglion, and the anterior nerve cord. Two distinct pairs of VGAT-positive neurons, bilaterally aligned along the anterior nerve cord, extended axons anteriorly, near to the axons of the contralateral VACHT-positive neurons. Cell bodies of the VGAT-positive neurons lay on these nerve tracts. The neuronal complex, comprising motor neurons with a cholinergic phenotype and some of the GABA/glycinergic interneurons, has structural features that are compatible with a central pattern generator (CPG) producing a rhythmic movement of the tail. The simple CPG of the ascidian larva may represent the ancestral state of the vertebrate motor system.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRHs) play pivotal roles in control of reproduction via a hypothalamic-pituitary-periphery endocrine system and nervous systems of not only vertebrates but also invertebrates. GnRHs trigger several signal transduction cascades via GnRH receptors (GnRHRs), members of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Recently, six GnRHs (tunicate GnRH [tGnRH]-3 to tGnRH-8) and four GnRHRs (Ciona intestinalis [Ci]-GnRHR1 to GnRHR-4), including a species-specific paralog, Ci-GnRHR4 (R4) regarded as an orphan receptor or nonfunctional receptor, were identified in the protochordate, C. intestinalis, which lacks the hypothalamic-pituitary system. Here, we show novel functional modulation of GnRH signaling pathways via GPCR heterodimerization. Immunohistochemical analysis showed colocalization of R1 and R4 in test cells of the ascidian ovary. The native R1-R4 heterodimerization was detected in the Ciona ovary by coimmunoprecipitation analysis. The heterodimerization in HEK293 cells cotransfected with R1 and R4 was also observed by coimmunoprecipitation and fluorescent energy transfer analyses. Binding assay revealed that R4 had no affinity for tGnRHs, and the heterodimerization did not alter the binding affinity of R1 to the ligands. The R1-R4 elicited 10-fold more potent Ca2+ mobilization than R1 exclusively by tGnRH-6, although R1-mediated cyclic AMP production was not affected by any of tGnRHs via the R1-R4 heterodimer. Moreover, the R1-R4 heterodimer potentiated translocation of both Ca2+-dependent protein kinase C-alpha (PKCalpha) by tGnRH-6 and Ca2+-independent PKCzeta by tGnRH-5 and tGnRH-6, eventually leading to the upregulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation compared with R1 alone. These results provide evidence that the species-specific GnRHR orphan paralog, R4, serves as an endogenous modulator for the fine-tuning of activation of PKC subtype-selective signal transduction via heterodimerization with R1 and that the species-specific GPCR heterodimerization, in concert with multiplication of tGnRHs and Ci-GnRHRs, participates in functional evolution of neuropeptidergic GnRH signaling pathways highly conserved throughout the animal kingdom.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 12/2009; 27(5):1097-106. · 10.35 Impact Factor