Matthew Kofron

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, United States

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Publications (8)49.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Foxi1e is a zygotic transcription factor that is essential for the expression of early ectodermal genes. It is expressed in a highly specific pattern, only in the deep cell layers of the animal hemisphere, and in a mosaic pattern in which expressing cells are interspersed with non-expressing cells. Previous work has shown that several signals in the blastula control this expression pattern, including nodals, the TGFβ family member Vg1, and Notch. However, these are all inhibitory, which raises the question of what activates Foxi1e. In this work, we show that a related Forkhead family protein, Foxi2, is a maternal activator of Foxi1e. Foxi2 mRNA is maternally encoded, and highly enriched in animal hemisphere cells of the blastula. ChIP assays show that it acts directly on upstream regulatory elements of Foxi1e. Its effect is specific, since animal cells depleted of Foxi2 are able to respond normally to mesoderm inducing signals from vegetal cells. Foxi2 thus acts as a link between the oocyte and the early pathway to ectoderm, in a similar fashion to the vegetally localized VegT acts to initiate endoderm and mesoderm formation.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e41782. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In multicellular organisms, morphogenesis is a highly coordinated process that requires dynamically regulated adhesion between cells. An excellent example of cellular morphogenesis is the formation of the neural tube from the flattened epithelium of the neural plate. Cysteine-rich motor neuron protein 1 (CRIM1) is a single-pass (type 1) transmembrane protein that is expressed in neural structures beginning at the neural plate stage. In the frog Xenopus laevis, loss of function studies using CRIM1 antisense morpholino oligonucleotides resulted in a failure of neural development. The CRIM1 knockdown phenotype was, in some cases, mild and resulted in perturbed neural fold morphogenesis. In severely affected embryos there was a dramatic failure of cell adhesion in the neural plate and complete absence of neural structures subsequently. Investigation of the mechanism of CRIM1 function revealed that it can form complexes with ß-catenin and cadherins, albeit indirectly, via the cytosolic domain. Consistent with this, CRIM1 knockdown resulted in diminished levels of cadherins and ß-catenin in junctional complexes in the neural plate. We conclude that CRIM1 is critical for cell-cell adhesion during neural development because it is required for the function of cadherin-dependent junctions.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e32635. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expression of the high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 and E7 oncogenes is essential for the initiation and maintenance of cervical cancer. The repression of both was previously shown to result in activation of their respective tumor suppressor targets, p53 and pRb, and subsequent senescence induction in cervical cancer cells. Consequently, viral oncogene suppression is a promising approach for the treatment of HPV-positive tumors. One well-established method of E6/E7 repression involves the reexpression of the viral E2 protein which is usually deleted in HPV-positive cancer cells. Here, we show that, surprisingly, bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV1) E2 but not RNA interference-mediated E6/E7 repression in HPV-positive cervical cancer cells stimulates cellular motility and invasion. Migration correlated with the dynamic formation of cellular protrusions and was dependent upon cell-to-cell contact. While E2-expressing migratory cells were senescent, migration was not a general feature of cellular senescence or cell cycle arrest and was specifically observed in HPV-positive cervical cancer cells. Interestingly, E2-expressing cells not only were themselves motile but also conferred increased motility to admixed HeLa cervical cancer cells. Together, our data suggest that repression of the viral oncogenes by E2 stimulates the motility of E6/E7-targeted cells as well as adjacent nontargeted cancer cells, thus raising the possibility that E2 expression may unfavorably increase the local invasiveness of HPV-positive tumors.
    Journal of Virology 08/2011; 85(20):10487-98. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known of the control of gene expression in the animal hemisphere of the Xenopus embryo. Here we show that expression of FoxI1e, a gene essential for normal ectoderm formation, is expressed regionally within the animal hemisphere, in a highly dynamic fashion. In situ hybridization shows that FoxI1e is expressed in a wave-like fashion that is initiated on the dorsal side of the animal hemisphere, extends across to the ventral side by the mid-gastrula stage, and is then turned off in the dorsal ectoderm, the neural plate, at the neurula stage. It is confined to the inner layers of cells in the animal cap, and is expressed in a mosaic fashion throughout. We show that this dynamic pattern of expression is controlled by both short- and long-range signals. Notch signaling controls both the mosaic, and dorsal/ventral changes in expression, and is controlled, in turn, by Vg1 signaling from the vegetal mass. FoxI1e expression is also regulated by nodal signaling downstream of VegT. Canonical Wnt signaling contributes only to late changes in the FoxI1e expression pattern. These results provide new insights into the roles of vegetally localized mRNAs in controlling zygotic genes expressed in the animal hemisphere by long-range signaling. They also provide novel insights into the role of Notch signaling at the earliest stages of vertebrate development.
    Developmental Biology 04/2008; 315(1):161-72. · 3.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Jun NH(2)-terminal kinases (JNKs) regulate convergent extension movements in Xenopus embryos through the noncanonical Wnt/planar cell polarity pathway. In addition, there is a high level of maternal JNK activity spanning from oocyte maturation until the onset of gastrulation that has no defined functions. Here, we show that maternal JNK activation requires Dishevelled and JNK is enriched in the nucleus of Xenopus embryos. Although JNK activity is not required for the glycogen synthase kinase-3-mediated degradation of beta-catenin, inhibition of the maternal JNK signaling by morpholino-antisense oligos causes hyperdorsalization of Xenopus embryos and ectopic expression of the Wnt/beta-catenin target genes. These effects are associated with an increased level of nuclear and nonmembrane-bound beta-catenin. Moreover, ventral injection of the constitutive-active Jnk mRNA blocks beta-catenin-induced axis duplication, and dorsal injection of active Jnk mRNA into Xenopus embryos decreases the dorsal marker gene expression. In mammalian cells, activation of JNK signaling reduces Wnt3A-induced and beta-catenin-mediated gene expression. Furthermore, activation of JNK signaling rapidly induces the nuclear export of beta-catenin. Taken together, these results suggest that JNK antagonizes the canonical Wnt pathway by regulating the nucleocytoplasmic transport of beta-catenin rather than its cytoplasmic stability. Thus, the high level of sustained maternal JNK activity in early Xenopus embryos may provide a timing mechanism for controlling the dorsal axis formation.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2006; 103(44):16313-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A conserved molecular pathway has emerged controlling endoderm formation in Xenopus zebrafish and mice. Key genes in this pathway include Nodal ligands and transcription factors of the Mix-like paired homeodomain class, Gata4-6 zinc-finger factors and Sox17 HMG domain proteins. Although a linear epistatic pathway has been proposed, the precise hierarchical relationships between these factors and their downstream targets are largely unresolved. Here, we have used a combination of microarray analysis and loss-of-function experiments to examine the global regulatory network controlling Xenopus endoderm formation. We identified over 300 transcripts enriched in the gastrula endoderm, including most of the known endoderm regulators and over a hundred uncharacterized genes. Surprisingly only 10% of the endoderm transcriptome is regulated as predicted by the current linear model. We find that Nodal genes, Mixer and Sox17 have both shared and distinct sets of downstream targets, and that a number of unexpected autoregulatory loops exist between Sox17 and Gata4-6, between Sox17 and Bix1/Bix2/Bix4, and between Sox17 and Xnr4. Furthermore, we find that Mixer does not function primarily via Sox17 as previously proposed. These data provides new insight into the complexity of endoderm formation and will serve as valuable resource for establishing a complete endoderm gene regulatory network.
    Development 06/2006; 133(10):1955-66. · 6.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since the three main pathways (the Wnt, VegT and BMP pathways) involved in organizer and axis formation in the Xenopus embryo are now characterized, the challenge is to understand their interactions. Here three comparisons were made. Firstly, we made a systematic comparison of the expression of zygotic genes in sibling wild-type, VegT-depleted (VegT(-)), beta-catenin-depleted (beta-catenin(-)) and double depleted (VegT(-)/beta-catenin(-)) embryos and placed early zygotic genes into specific groups. In the first group some organizer genes, including chordin, noggin and cerberus, required the activity of both the Wnt pathway and the VegT pathway to be expressed. A second group including Xnr1, 2, 4 and Xlim1 were initiated by the VegT pathway but their dorsoventral pattern and amount of their expression was regulated by the Wnt pathway. Secondly, we compared the roles of the Wnt and VegT pathways in producing dorsal signals. Explant co-culture experiments showed that the Wnt pathway did not cause the release of a dorsal signal from the vegetal mass independent from the VegT pathway. Finally we compared the extent to which inhibiting Smad 1 phosphorylation in one area of VegT(-), or beta-catenin(-) embryos would rescue organizer and axis formation. We found that BMP inhibition with cm-BMP7 mRNA had no rescuing effects on VegT(-) embryos, while cm-BMP7 and noggin mRNA caused a complete rescue of the trunk, but not of the anterior pattern in beta-catenin(-) embryos.
    Development 10/2002; 129(17):4027-43. · 6.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Early Xenopus embryos are large, and during the egg to gastrula stages, when there is little extracellular matrix, the cytoskeletons of the individual blastomeres are thought to maintain their spherical architecture and provide scaffolding for the cellular movements of gastrulation. We showed previously that depletion of plakoglobin protein during the egg to gastrula stages caused collapse of embryonic architecture. Here, we show that this is due to loss of the cortical actin skeleton after depletion of plakoglobin, whereas the microtubule and cytokeratin skeletons are still present. As a functional assay for the actin skeleton, we show that wound healing, an actin-based behavior in embryos, is also abrogated by plakoglobin depletion. Both wound healing and the amount of cortical actin are enhanced by overexpression of plakoglobin. To begin to identify links between plakoglobin and the cortical actin polymerization machinery, we show here that the Rho family GTPase cdc42, is required for wound healing in the Xenopus blastula. Myc-tagged cdc42 colocalizes with actin in purse-strings surrounding wounds. Overexpression of cdc42 dramatically enhances wound healing, whereas depletion of maternal cdc42 mRNA blocks it. In combinatorial experiments we show that cdc42 cannot rescue the effects of plakoglobin depletion, showing that plakoglobin is required for cdc42-mediated cortical actin assembly during wound healing. However, plakoglobin does rescue the effect of cdc42 depletion, suggesting that cdc42 somehow mediates the distribution or function of plakoglobin. Depletion of alpha-catenin does not remove the cortical actin skeleton, showing that plakoglobin does not mediate its effect by its known linkage through alpha-catenin to the actin skeleton. We conclude that in Xenopus, the actin skeleton is a major determinant of cell shape and overall architecture in the early embryo, and that plakoglobin plays an essential role in the assembly, maintenance, or organization of this cortical actin.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 09/2002; 158(4):695-708. · 10.82 Impact Factor