[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Organ formation requires the precise assembly of progenitor cells into a functional multicellular structure. Mechanical forces probably participate in this process but how they influence organ morphogenesis is still unclear. Here, we show that Wnt11- and Prickle1a-mediated planar cell polarity (PCP) signalling coordinates the formation of the zebrafish ciliated laterality organ (Kupffer's vesicle) by regulating adhesion properties between organ progenitor cells (the dorsal forerunner cells, DFCs). Combined inhibition of Wnt11 and Prickle1a reduces DFC cell-cell adhesion and impairs their compaction and arrangement during vesicle lumen formation. This leads to the formation of a mis-shapen vesicle with small fragmented lumina and shortened cilia, resulting in severely impaired organ function and, as a consequence, randomised laterality of both molecular and visceral asymmetries. Our results reveal a novel role for PCP-dependent cell adhesion in coordinating the supracellular organisation of progenitor cells during vertebrate laterality organ formation.
Development 10/2010; 137(20):3459-68. · 6.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Blood vessels function in the uptake, transport, and delivery of gases and nutrients within the body. A key question is how the central lumen of blood vessels develops within a cord of vascular endothelial cells. Here, we demonstrate that sialic acids of apical glycoproteins localize to apposing endothelial cell surfaces and generate repelling electrostatic fields within an endothelial cell cord. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments show that the negative charge of sialic acids is required for the separation of endothelial cell surfaces and subsequent lumen formation. We also demonstrate that sulfate residues can substitute for sialic acids during lumen initiation. These results therefore reveal a key step in the creation of blood vessels, the most abundant conduits in the vertebrate body. Because negatively charged mucins and proteoglycans are often found on luminal cell surfaces, it is possible that electrostatic repulsion is a general principle also used to initiate lumen formation in other organs.
Current biology: CB 10/2010; 20(22):2003-9. · 10.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Collective cell migration, the simultaneous movement of multiple cells that are connected by cell-cell adhesion, is ubiquitous in development, tissue repair, and tumor metastasis [1, 2]. It has been hypothesized that the directionality of cell movement during collective migration emerges as a collective property [3, 4]. Here we determine how movement directionality is established in collective mesendoderm migration during zebrafish gastrulation. By interfering with two key features of collective migration, (1) having neighboring cells and (2) adhering to them, we show that individual mesendoderm cells are capable of normal directed migration when moving as single cells but require cell-cell adhesion to participate in coordinated and directed migration when moving as part of a group. We conclude that movement directionality is not a de novo collective property of mesendoderm cells but rather a property of single mesendoderm cells that requires cell-cell adhesion during collective migration.
Current biology: CB 01/2010; 20(2):161-9. · 10.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell shape and motility are primarily controlled by cellular mechanics. The attachment of the plasma membrane to the underlying actomyosin cortex has been proposed to be important for cellular processes involving membrane deformation. However, little is known about the actual function of membrane-to-cortex attachment (MCA) in cell protrusion formation and migration, in particular in the context of the developing embryo. Here, we use a multidisciplinary approach to study MCA in zebrafish mesoderm and endoderm (mesendoderm) germ layer progenitor cells, which migrate using a combination of different protrusion types, namely, lamellipodia, filopodia, and blebs, during zebrafish gastrulation. By interfering with the activity of molecules linking the cortex to the membrane and measuring resulting changes in MCA by atomic force microscopy, we show that reducing MCA in mesendoderm progenitors increases the proportion of cellular blebs and reduces the directionality of cell migration. We propose that MCA is a key parameter controlling the relative proportions of different cell protrusion types in mesendoderm progenitors, and thus is key in controlling directed migration during gastrulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Originally invented for imaging surfaces, atomic force microscopy (AFM) has evolved into a multifunctional molecular toolkit, enabling us to investigate the interactions of biological systems over scales ranging from single-molecules to whole cells. Specific highlights include the nanoscale imaging of the chemical properties of individual cells, the detection and functional analysis of cell surface receptors using single-molecule force spectroscopy and the quantitative measurement of cellular interactions using single-cell force spectroscopy. These advanced force spectroscopy modalities offer new opportunities for understanding the molecular bases of cell adhesion processes, which is a fundamental challenge in current life science and biotech research.
Current opinion in biotechnology 04/2009; 20(1):4-13. · 7.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wnt11 plays a central role in tissue morphogenesis during vertebrate gastrulation, but the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which Wnt11 exerts its effects remain poorly understood. Here, we show that Wnt11 functions during zebrafish gastrulation by regulating the cohesion of mesodermal and endodermal (mesendodermal) progenitor cells. Importantly, we demonstrate that Wnt11 activity in this process is mediated by the GTPase Rab5, a key regulator of early endocytosis, as blocking Rab5c activity in wild-type embryos phenocopies slb/wnt11 mutants, and enhancing Rab5c activity in slb/wnt11 mutant embryos rescues the mutant phenotype. In addition, we find that Wnt11 and Rab5c control the endocytosis of E-cadherin and are required in mesendodermal cells for E-cadherin-mediated cell cohesion. Together, our results suggest that Wnt11 controls tissue morphogenesis by modulating E-cadherin-mediated cell cohesion through Rab5c, a novel mechanism of Wnt signaling in gastrulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During vertebrate gastrulation, progenitor cells of different germ layers acquire specific adhesive properties that contribute to germ layer formation and separation. Wnt signals have been suggested to function in this process by modulating the different levels of adhesion between the germ layers, however, direct evidence for this is still lacking. Here we show that Wnt11, a key signal regulating gastrulation movements, is needed for the adhesion of zebrafish mesendodermal progenitor cells to fibronectin, an abundant extracellular matrix component during gastrulation. To measure this effect, we developed an assay to quantify the adhesion of single zebrafish primary mesendodermal progenitors using atomic-force microscopy (AFM). We observed significant differences in detachment force and work between cultured mesendodermal progenitors from wild-type embryos and from slb/wnt11 mutant embryos, which carry a loss-of-function mutation in the wnt11 gene, when tested on fibronectin-coated substrates. These differences were probably due to reduced adhesion to the fibronectin substrate as neither the overall cell morphology nor the cell elasticity grossly differed between wild-type and mutant cells. Furthermore, in the presence of inhibitors of fibronectin-integrin binding, such as RGD peptides, the adhesion force and work were strongly decreased, indicating that integrins are involved in the binding of mesendodermal progenitors in our assay. These findings demonstrate that AFM can be used to quantitatively determine the substrate-adhesion of cultured primary gastrulating cells and provide insight into the role of Wnt11 signalling in modulating cell adhesion at the single cell scale.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Single-molecule force spectroscopy was applied to unfold individual Na(+)/H(+) antiporters NhaA from membrane patches. The force-extension curves contained detailed information about the strength and location of molecular interactions established within NhaA. Although molecular interactions that stabilize secondary structure elements remained unaffected on switching NhaA into its functional state, those that are assigned to the Na(+)-binding site changed markedly. These interactions were formed only in the presence of Na(+), with their full strength being established at pH approximately 6. This finding is in apparent contrast to measurements that suggest that NhaA is fully active at pH 7. Statistical analysis, however, showed that not all NhaA molecules activated this molecular interaction at pH 6, but at pH 7. This implies that the molecular interactions established on Na(+) binding may represent an early step in NhaA activation. The direct observation of molecular interactions established within an antiporter provides new insights into their activation mechanisms.