[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of Sprouty genes is frequently decreased or absent in human prostate cancer, implicating them as suppressors of tumorigenesis. Here we show they function in prostate tumor suppression in the mouse. Concomitant inactivation of Spry1 and Spry2 in prostate epithelium causes ductal hyperplasia and low-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). However, when Spry1 and Spry2 loss-of-function occurs in the context of heterozygosity for a null allele of the tumor suppressor gene Pten, there is a striking increase in PIN and evidence of neoplastic invasion. Conversely, expression of a Spry2 gain-of-function transgene in Pten null prostatic epithelium suppresses the tumorigenic effects of loss of Pten function. We show that Sprouty gene loss-of-function results in hyperactive RAS/ERK1/2 signaling throughout the prostate epithelium and cooperates with heterozygosity for a Pten null allele to promote hyperactive PI3K/AKT signaling. Furthermore, Spry2 gain-of-function can suppress hyperactivation of AKT caused by the absence of PTEN. Together, these results point to a key genetic interaction between Sprouty genes and Pten in prostate tumorigenesis and provide strong evidence that Sprouty genes can function to modulate signaling via the RAS/ERK1/2 and PI3K/AKT pathways. The finding that Sprouty genes suppress tumorigenesis caused by Pten loss-of-function suggests that therapeutic approaches aimed at restoring normal feedback mechanisms triggered by receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, including Sprouty gene expression, may provide an effective strategy to delay or prevent high-grade PIN and invasive prostate cancer.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2012; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During early lung development, airway tubes change shape. Tube length increases more than circumference as a large proportion of lung epithelial cells divide parallel to the airway longitudinal axis. We show that this bias is lost in mutants with increased extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK1) and ERK2 activity, revealing a link between the ERK1/2 signaling pathway and the control of mitotic spindle orientation. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrate that change in airway shape can occur as a function of spindle angle distribution determined by ERK1/2 signaling, independent of effects on cell proliferation or cell size and shape. We identify sprouty genes, which encode negative regulators of fibroblast growth factor 10 (FGF10)-mediated RAS-regulated ERK1/2 signaling, as essential for controlling airway shape change during development through an effect on mitotic spindle orientation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In many organ systems such as the skin, gastrointestinal tract and hematopoietic system, homeostasis is dependent on the continuous generation of differentiated progeny from stem cells. The rodent incisor, unlike human teeth, grows throughout the life of the animal and provides a prime example of an organ that rapidly deteriorates if newly differentiated cells cease to form from adult stem cells. Hedgehog (Hh) signaling has been proposed to regulate self-renewal, survival, proliferation and/or differentiation of stem cells in several systems, but to date there is little evidence supporting a role for Hh signaling in adult stem cells. We used in vivo genetic lineage tracing to identify Hh-responsive stem cells in the mouse incisor and we show that sonic hedgehog (SHH), which is produced by the differentiating progeny of the stem cells, signals to several regions of the incisor. Using a hedgehog pathway inhibitor (HPI), we demonstrate that Hh signaling is not required for stem cell survival but is essential for the generation of ameloblasts, one of the major differentiated cell types in the tooth, from the stem cells. These results therefore reveal the existence of a positive-feedback loop in which differentiating progeny produce the signal that in turn allows them to be generated from stem cells.
Development 11/2010; 137(22):3753-61. · 6.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electrical cardiac forces have been previously hypothesized to play a significant role in cardiac morphogenesis and remodeling. In response to electrical forces, cultured cardiomyocytes rearrange their cytoskeletal structure and modify their gene expression profile. To translate such in vitro data to the intact heart, we used a collection of zebrafish cardiac mutants and transgenics to investigate whether cardiac conduction could influence in vivo cardiac morphogenesis independent of contractile forces. We show that the cardiac mutant dco(s226) develops heart failure and interrupted cardiac morphogenesis following uncoordinated ventricular contraction. Using in vivo optical mapping/calcium imaging, we determined that the dco cardiac phenotype was primarily due to aberrant ventricular conduction. Because cardiac contraction and intracardiac hemodynamic forces can also influence cardiac development, we further analyzed the dco phenotype in noncontractile hearts and observed that disorganized ventricular conduction could affect cardiomyocyte morphology and subsequent heart morphogenesis in the absence of contraction or flow. By positional cloning, we found that dco encodes Gja3/Cx46, a gap junction protein not previously implicated in heart formation or function. Detailed analysis of the mouse Cx46 mutant revealed the presence of cardiac conduction defects frequently associated with human heart failure. Overall, these in vivo studies indicate that cardiac electrical forces are required to preserve cardiac chamber morphology and may act as a key epigenetic factor in cardiac remodeling.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2010; 107(33):14662-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: GDNF signaling through the Ret receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) is required for ureteric bud (UB) branching morphogenesis during kidney development in mice and humans. Furthermore, many other mutant genes that cause renal agenesis exert their effects via the GDNF/RET pathway. Therefore, RET signaling is believed to play a central role in renal organogenesis. Here, we re-examine the extent to which the functions of Gdnf and Ret are unique, by seeking conditions in which a kidney can develop in their absence. We find that in the absence of the negative regulator Spry1, Gdnf, and Ret are no longer required for extensive kidney development. Gdnf-/-;Spry1-/- or Ret-/-;Spry1-/- double mutants develop large kidneys with normal ureters, highly branched collecting ducts, extensive nephrogenesis, and normal histoarchitecture. However, despite extensive branching, the UB displays alterations in branch spacing, angle, and frequency. UB branching in the absence of Gdnf and Spry1 requires Fgf10 (which normally plays a minor role), as removal of even one copy of Fgf10 in Gdnf-/-;Spry1-/- mutants causes a complete failure of ureter and kidney development. In contrast to Gdnf or Ret mutations, renal agenesis caused by concomitant lack of the transcription factors ETV4 and ETV5 is not rescued by removing Spry1, consistent with their role downstream of both RET and FGFRs. This shows that, for many aspects of renal development, the balance between positive signaling by RTKs and negative regulation of this signaling by SPRY1 is more critical than the specific role of GDNF. Other signals, including FGF10, can perform many of the functions of GDNF, when SPRY1 is absent. But GDNF/RET signaling has an apparently unique function in determining normal branching pattern. In contrast to GDNF or FGF10, Etv4 and Etv5 represent a critical node in the RTK signaling network that cannot by bypassed by reducing the negative regulation of upstream signals.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs comprise a broad class of small non-coding RNAs that control expression of complementary target messenger RNAs. Dysregulation of microRNAs by several mechanisms has been described in various disease states including cardiac disease. Whereas previous studies of cardiac disease have focused on microRNAs that are primarily expressed in cardiomyocytes, the role of microRNAs expressed in other cell types of the heart is unclear. Here we show that microRNA-21 (miR-21, also known as Mirn21) regulates the ERK-MAP kinase signalling pathway in cardiac fibroblasts, which has impacts on global cardiac structure and function. miR-21 levels are increased selectively in fibroblasts of the failing heart, augmenting ERK-MAP kinase activity through inhibition of sprouty homologue 1 (Spry1). This mechanism regulates fibroblast survival and growth factor secretion, apparently controlling the extent of interstitial fibrosis and cardiac hypertrophy. In vivo silencing of miR-21 by a specific antagomir in a mouse pressure-overload-induced disease model reduces cardiac ERK-MAP kinase activity, inhibits interstitial fibrosis and attenuates cardiac dysfunction. These findings reveal that microRNAs can contribute to myocardial disease by an effect in cardiac fibroblasts. Our results validate miR-21 as a disease target in heart failure and establish the therapeutic efficacy of microRNA therapeutic intervention in a cardiovascular disease setting.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian lungs are branched networks containing thousands to millions of airways arrayed in intricate patterns that are crucial for respiration. How such trees are generated during development, and how the developmental patterning information is encoded, have long fascinated biologists and mathematicians. However, models have been limited by a lack of information on the normal sequence and pattern of branching events. Here we present the complete three-dimensional branching pattern and lineage of the mouse bronchial tree, reconstructed from an analysis of hundreds of developmental intermediates. The branching process is remarkably stereotyped and elegant: the tree is generated by three geometrically simple local modes of branching used in three different orders throughout the lung. We propose that each mode of branching is controlled by a genetically encoded subroutine, a series of local patterning and morphogenesis operations, which are themselves controlled by a more global master routine. We show that this hierarchical and modular programme is genetically tractable, and it is ideally suited to encoding and evolving the complex networks of the lung and other branched organs.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FGF signaling is associated with breast cancer and is required for mammary placode formation in the mouse. In this study, we employed a genetic mosaic analysis based on Cre-mediated recombination to investigate FGF receptor 2 (Fgfr2) function in the postnatal mammary gland. Mosaic inactivation of Fgfr2 by the MMTV-Cre transgene enabled us to compare the behavior of Fgfr2 null and Fgfr2 heterozygous cells in the same gland. Fgfr2 null cells were at a competitive disadvantage to their Fgfr2 heterozygous neighbors in the highly proliferative terminal end buds (TEBs) at the invasion front, owing to a negative effect of loss of Fgfr2 function on cell proliferation. However, Fgfr2 null cells were tolerated in mature ducts. In these genetic mosaic mammary glands, the epithelial network is apparently built by TEBs that over time are composed of a progressively larger proportion of Fgfr2-positive cells. However, subsequently, most cells lose Fgfr2 function, presumably due to additional rounds of Cre-mediated recombination. Using an independent strategy to create mosaic mammary glands, which employed an adenovirus-Cre that acts only once, we confirmed that Fgfr2 null cells were out-competed by neighboring Fgfr2 heterozygous cells. Together, our data demonstrate that Fgfr2 functions in the proliferating and invading TEBs, but it is not required in the mature ducts of the pubertal mammary gland.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Half a century ago, the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) at the distal tip of the tetrapod limb bud was shown to produce signals necessary for development along the proximal-distal (P-D) axis, but how these signals influence limb patterning is still much debated. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) gene family members are key AER-derived signals, with Fgf4, Fgf8, Fgf9 and Fgf17 expressed specifically in the mouse AER. Here we demonstrate that mouse limbs lacking Fgf4, Fgf9 and Fgf17 have normal skeletal pattern, indicating that Fgf8 is sufficient among AER-FGFs to sustain normal limb formation. Inactivation of Fgf8 alone causes a mild skeletal phenotype; however, when we also removed different combinations of the other AER-FGF genes, we obtained unexpected skeletal phenotypes of increasing severity, reflecting the contribution that each FGF can make to the total AER-FGF signal. Analysis of the compound mutant limb buds revealed that, in addition to sustaining cell survival, AER-FGFs regulate P-D-patterning gene expression during early limb bud development, providing genetic evidence that AER-FGFs function to specify a distal domain and challenging the long-standing hypothesis that AER-FGF signalling is permissive rather than instructive for limb patterning. We discuss how a two-signal model for P-D patterning can be integrated with the concept of early specification to explain the genetic data presented here.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prospective midbrain and cerebellum formation are coordinated by FGF ligands produced by the isthmic organizer. Previous studies have suggested that midbrain and cerebellum development require different levels of FGF signaling. However, little is known about the extent to which specific regions within these two parts of the brain differ in their requirement for FGF signaling during embryogenesis. Here, we have explored the effects of inhibiting FGF signaling within the embryonic mouse midbrain (mesencephalon) and cerebellum (rhombomere 1) by misexpressing sprouty2 (Spry2) from an early stage. We show that such Spry2 misexpression moderately reduces FGF signaling, and that this reduction causes cell death in the anterior mesencephalon, the region furthest from the source of FGF ligands. Interestingly, the remaining mesencephalon cells develop into anterior midbrain, indicating that a low level of FGF signaling is sufficient to promote only anterior midbrain development. Spry2 misexpression also affects development of the vermis, the part of the cerebellum that spans the midline. We found that, whereas misexpression of Spry2 alone caused loss of the anterior vermis, reducing FGF signaling further, by decreasing Fgf8 gene dose, resulted in loss of the entire vermis. Our data suggest that cell death is not responsible for vermis loss, but rather that it fails to develop because reducing FGF signaling perturbs the balance between vermis and roof plate development in rhombomere 1. We suggest a molecular explanation for this phenomenon by providing evidence that FGF signaling functions to inhibit the BMP signaling that promotes roof plate development.
Development 04/2008; 135(5):889-98. · 6.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cre-mediated recombination, a method widely used in mice for tissue-specific inactivation of endogenous genes or activation of transgenes, is critically dependent on the availability of mouse lines in which Cre recombinase functions in the tissue of interest or its progenitors. Here we describe a transgenic mouse line, Osr1-cre, in which Cre is active from embryonic day (E)11.5 in a few specific tissues. These include the endoderm of the posterior foregut, midgut, hindgut, and developing urogenital system, the heart left atrium, extra-ocular muscle progenitors, and mesenchyme in particular regions of the limb. Furthermore, starting at E12.5, Cre functions in limb interdigital mesenchyme. Within the urogenital system, recombination appears to be virtually complete in the epithelium of the bladder and urethra just posterior to it by E14.5. In males, some of these urethral cells form the prostate. The spatiotemporal pattern of Cre activity in Osr1-cre makes it a unique resource among the lines available for Cre-mediated recombination experiments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rodent incisors grow throughout adult life, but are prevented from becoming excessively long by constant abrasion, which is facilitated by the absence of enamel on one side of the incisor. Here we report that loss-of-function of sprouty genes, which encode antagonists of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, leads to bilateral enamel deposition, thus impeding incisor abrasion and resulting in unchecked tooth elongation. We demonstrate that sprouty genes function to ensure that enamel-producing ameloblasts are generated on only one side of the tooth by inhibiting the formation of ectopic ameloblasts from self-renewing stem cells, and that they do so by preventing the establishment of an epithelial-mesenchymal FGF signaling loop. Interestingly, although inactivation of Spry4 alone initiates ectopic ameloblast formation in the embryo, the dosage of another sprouty gene must also be reduced to sustain it after birth. These data reveal that the generation of differentiated progeny from a particular stem cell population can be differently regulated in the embryo and adult.
Development 02/2008; 135(2):377-85. · 6.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Development of the metanephric kidney crucially depends on proper interactions between cells and the surrounding extracellular matrix. For example, we showed previously that in the absence of alpha8beta1 integrin, invasion by the ureteric bud into the metanephric mesenchyme is inhibited, resulting in renal agenesis. Here we present genetic evidence that the extracellular matrix protein nephronectin is an essential ligand that engages alpha8beta1 integrin during early kidney development. We show that embryos lacking a functional nephronectin gene frequently display kidney agenesis or hypoplasia, which can be traced to a delay in the invasion of the metanephric mesenchyme by the ureteric bud at an early stage of kidney development. Significantly, we detected no defects in extracellular matrix organization in the nascent kidneys of the nephronectin mutants. Instead, we found that Gdnf expression was dramatically reduced in both nephronectin- and alpha8 integrin-null mutants specifically in the metanephric mesenchyme at the time of ureteric bud invasion. We show that this reduction is sufficient to explain the agenesis and hypoplasia observed in both mutants. Interestingly, the reduction in Gdnf expression is transient, and its resumption presumably enables the nephronectin-deficient ureteric buds to invade the metanephric mesenchyme and begin branching. Our results thus place nephronectin and alpha8beta1 integrin in a pathway that regulates Gdnf expression and is essential for kidney development.
Development 08/2007; 134(13):2501-9. · 6.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While particular combinations of mesodermal signals are known to induce distinct tissue-specific programs in the endoderm, there is little information about the response pathways within endoderm cells that control their specification. We have used signaling inhibitors on embryo tissue explants and whole-embryo cultures as well as genetic approaches to reveal part of an intracellular network by which FGF signaling helps induce hepatic genes and stabilize nascent hepatic cells within the endodermal epithelium. Specifically, we found that hepatic gene induction is elicited by an FGF/MAPK pathway. Although the PI3K pathway is activated in foregut endoderm cells, its inhibition does not block hepatic gene induction in explants; however, it does block tissue growth. We also found that at the onset of hepatogenesis, the FGF/MAPK and PI3K pathways do not crossregulate in the endoderm. The finding of separate pathways for endoderm tissue specification and growth provides insights for guiding cellular regeneration and stem cell differentiation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been proposed that haematopoietic and endothelial cells share a common progenitor, termed the haemangioblast. This idea was initially conceived as a result of the observation that these two cell types develop in close proximity to each other within the embryo. Support for this hypothesis was provided by studies on single-cell-derived colonies that can produce both haematopoietic and endothelial cells in vitro. Although these data point towards the existence of a common progenitor for these two lineages, the presence of a bipotential progenitor cell has yet to be demonstrated in vivo. Through the construction of single-cell-resolution fate maps of the zebrafish late blastula and gastrula, we demonstrate that individual cells can give rise to both haematopoietic and endothelial cells. These bipotential progenitors arise along the entire extent of the ventral mesoderm and contribute solely to haematopoietic and endothelial cells. We also find that only a subset of haematopoietic and endothelial cells arise from haemangioblasts. The endothelial descendants of the haemangioblasts all clustered in a specific region of the axial vessels regardless of the location of their progenitors. Our results provide in vivo evidence supporting the existence of the haemangioblast and reveal distinct features of this cell population.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlike humans, who have a continuous row of teeth, mice have only molars and incisors separated by a toothless region called a diastema. Although tooth buds form in the embryonic diastema, they regress and do not develop into teeth. Here, we identify members of the Sprouty (Spry) family, which encode negative feedback regulators of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and other receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, as genes that repress diastema tooth development. We show that different Sprouty genes are deployed in different tissue compartments--Spry2 in epithelium and Spry4 in mesenchyme--to prevent diastema tooth formation. We provide genetic evidence that they function to ensure that diastema tooth buds are refractory to signaling via FGF ligands that are present in the region and thus prevent these buds from engaging in the FGF-mediated bidirectional signaling between epithelium and mesenchyme that normally sustains tooth development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) is an evolutionarily conserved, ubiquitously expressed flavoprotein with NADH oxidase activity that is normally confined to mitochondria. In mammalian cells, AIF is released from mitochondria in response to apoptotic stimuli and translocates to the nucleus where it is thought to bind DNA and contribute to chromatinolysis and cell death in a caspase-independent manner. Here we describe the consequences of inactivating Aif in the early mouse embryo. Unexpectedly, we found that both the apoptosis-dependent process of cavitation in embryoid bodies and apoptosis associated with embryonic neural tube closure occur in the absence of AIF, indicating that Aif function is not required for apoptotic cell death in early mouse embryos. By embryonic day 9 (E9), loss of Aif function causes abnormal cell death, presumably because of reduced mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I activity. Because of this cell death, Aif null embryos fail to increase significantly in size after E9. Remarkably, patterning processes continue on an essentially normal schedule, such that E10 Aif null embryos with only approximately 1/10 the normal number of cells have the same somite number as their wild-type littermates. These observations show that pattern formation in the mouse can occur independent of embryo size and cell number.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2006; 103(26):9918-23. · 9.74 Impact Factor