[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The primitive face is composed of neural crest cell (NCC) derived prominences. The medial nasal processes (MNP) give rise to the upper lip and vomeronasal organ, and are essential for normal craniofacial development, but the mechanism of MNP development remains largely unknown. PDGFRα signaling is known to be critical for NCC development and craniofacial morphogenesis. In this study, we show that PDGFRα is required for MNP development by maintaining the migration of progenitor neural crest cells (NCCs) and the proliferation of MNP cells. Further investigations reveal that PI3K/Akt and Rac1 signaling mediate PDGFRα function during MNP development. We thus establish PDGFRα as a novel regulator of MNP development and elucidate the roles of its downstream signaling pathways at cellular and molecular levels.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Wnt1-Cre transgenic mouse line is extensively used in the study of the development of the neural crest and its derivatives and the midbrain. The Wnt1 gene has important developmental roles in formation of the midbrain-hindbrain boundary, regulation of midbrain size, and neurogenesis of ventral midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons. Here, we report that Wnt1-Cre transgenic mice exhibit phenotypes in multiple aspects of midbrain development. Significant expansion of the midbrain and increased proliferation in the developing inferior colliculus is associated with ectopic expression of Wnt1. Marked elevation of Wnt1 expression in the ventral midbrain is correlated with disruption of the differentiation program of ventral mDA neurons. We find that these phenotypes can be attributed to ectopic expression of Wnt1 from the Wnt1-Cre transgene leading to the ectopic activation of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Since these caveats could complicate the utility of Wnt1-Cre in some developmental circumstances, we report a new Wnt1-Cre2 transgenic mouse line that can serve the same purposes as the original without the associated phenotypic complications. These studies reveal an important caveat to a widely-used reagent, provide an improved version of this reagent, and indicate that the original Wnt1-Cre transgenic mouse line may be useful as a gain of function model for interrogating Wnt signaling mechanisms in multiple aspects of midbrain development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin partners compose a large and complex family of signaling molecules involved in a wide variety of processes in development, homeostasis, and disease. The complexity inherent to Eph/ephrin signaling derives from several characteristics of the family. First, the large size and functional redundancy/compensation by family members presents a challenge in defining their in vivo roles. Second, the capacity for bidirectional signaling doubles the potential complexity, since every member has the ability to act both as a ligand and a receptor. Third, Ephs and ephrins can utilize a wide array of signal transduction pathways with a tremendous diversity of cell biological effect. The daunting complexity of Eph/ephrin signaling has increasingly prompted investigators to resort to multiple technological approaches to gain mechanistic insight. Here we review recent progress in the use of advanced mouse genetics in combination with proteomic and transcriptomic approaches to gain a more complete understanding of signaling mechanism in vivo. Integrating insights from such disparate approaches provides advantages in continuing to advance our understanding of how this multifarious group of signaling molecules functions in a diverse array of biological contexts.
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 02/2012; 23(1):26-34. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mural cells (pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells) provide trophic and structural support to blood vessels. Vascular smooth muscle cells alternate between a synthetic/proliferative state and a differentiated/contractile state, but the dynamic states of pericytes are poorly understood. To explore the cues that regulate mural cell differentiation and homeostasis, we have generated conditional knockin mice with activating mutations at the PDGFRβ locus. We show that increased PDGFRβ signaling drives cell proliferation and downregulates differentiation genes in aortic vascular smooth muscle. Increased PDGFRβ signaling also induces a battery of immune response genes in pericytes and mesenchymal cells and inhibits differentiation of white adipocytes. Mural cells are emerging as multipotent progenitors of pathophysiological importance, and we identify PDGFRβ signaling as an important in vivo regulator of their progenitor potential.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene trap mutagenesis in embryonic stem cells is an important tool to help elucidate gene function in current mouse mutagenesis efforts. Vector systems based on inversion of the gene trap module have recently been devised to allow for conditional mutagenesis. However, additional efforts are needed to improve this technology including improving the efficiency of site-specific recombinases required to manipulate these conditional vectors in vivo. Here we describe a mouse line carrying the codon-optimized FLP recombinase Flpo at the ROSA26 locus that functions at higher efficiency than a similar Flpe line in mediating the DNA inversion of a conditional gene trap cassette in vivo.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the X-linked human EPHRIN-B1 gene result in cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies as part of craniofrontonasal syndrome (CFNS), but the molecular and developmental mechanisms by which ephrin-B1 controls the underlying developmental processes are not clear. Here we demonstrate that ephrin-B1 plays an intrinsic role in palatal shelf outgrowth in the mouse by regulating cell proliferation in the anterior palatal shelf mesenchyme. In ephrin-B1 heterozygous mutants, X inactivation generates ephrin-B1-expressing and -nonexpressing cells that sort out, resulting in mosaic ephrin-B1 expression. We now show that this process leads to mosaic disruption of cell proliferation and post-transcriptional up-regulation of EphB receptor expression through relief of endocytosis and degradation. The alteration in proliferation rates resulting from ectopic Eph-ephrin expression boundaries correlates with the more severe dysmorphogenesis of ephrin-B1(+/-) heterozygotes that is a hallmark of CFNS. Finally, by integrating phosphoproteomic and transcriptomic approaches, we show that ephrin-B1 controls proliferation in the palate by regulating the extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK/MAPK) signal transduction pathway.
Genes & development 09/2010; 24(18):2068-80. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the ephrin-B1 gene result in craniofrontonasal syndrome (CFNS) in humans, a congenital disorder that includes a wide range of craniofacial, skeletal, and neurological malformations. In addition to the ability of ephrin-B1 to forward signal through its cognate EphB tyrosine kinase receptors, ephrin-B1 can also act as a receptor and transduce a reverse signal by either PDZ-dependent or phosphorylation-dependent mechanisms. To investigate how ephrin-B1 acts to influence development and congenital disease, we generated mice harboring a series of targeted point mutations in the ephrin-B1 gene that independently ablate specific reverse signaling pathways, while maintaining forward signaling capacity. We demonstrate that both PDZ and phosphorylation-dependent reverse signaling by ephrin-B1 are dispensable for craniofacial and skeletal development, whereas PDZ-dependent reverse signaling by ephrin-B1 is critical for the formation of a major commissural axon tract, the corpus callosum. Ephrin-B1 is strongly expressed within axons of the corpus callosum, and reverse signaling acts autonomously in cortical axons to mediate an avoidance response to its signaling partner EphB2. These results demonstrate the importance of PDZ-dependent reverse signaling for a subset of Ephrin-B1 developmental roles in vivo.
Genes & development 07/2009; 23(13):1586-99. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PDGF signaling regulates the development of mesenchymal cell types in the embryo and in the adult, but the role of receptor activation in tissue homeostasis has not been investigated. We have generated conditional knockin mice with mutations in PDGFRalpha that drive increased kinase activity under the control of the endogenous PDGFRalpha promoter. In embryos, increased PDGFRalpha signaling leads to hyperplasia of stromal fibroblasts, which disturbs normal smooth muscle tissue in radially patterned organs. In adult mice, elevated PDGFRalpha signaling also increases connective tissue growth, leading to a progressive fibrosis phenotype in multiple organs. Increased PDGFRalpha signaling in an Ink4a/Arf-deficient genetic background leads to accelerated fibrosis, suggesting a new role for tumor suppressors in attenuating fibrotic diseases. These results highlight the role of PDGFRalpha in normal connective tissue development and homeostasis and demonstrate a pivotal role for PDGFRalpha signaling in systemic fibrosis diseases.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling pathway regulates numerous lineages of mesenchymal cell origin during development and in the adult. The transcriptional targets of this pathway have been shown to be required in several PDGF-dependent processes, but the roles of these targets in specific tissues is just beginning to be identified. In this study, we show that five different PDGF target genes are essential for male and/or female fertility. Mutations in each of these five different genes lead to defects in the steroid-producing cells in the testis and/or ovary and altered hormone production, suggesting that the PDGF pathway controls steroidogenesis through these genes in both sexes. Furthermore, conditional mutations of both PDGF receptors revealed a requirement in steroid-producing cells in multiple organs, including the testis, ovary, and adrenal cortex. Therefore, PDGF signaling may constitute a common mechanism in the control of multiple steroidogenic lineages.
Genes & Development 01/2009; 22(23):3255-67. · 12.44 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maintaining a balance between self-renewal and differentiation in neural progenitor cells during development is important to ensure that correct numbers of neural cells are generated. We report that the ephrin-B-PDZ-RGS3 signaling pathway functions to regulate this balance in the developing mammalian cerebral cortex. During cortical neurogenesis, expression of ephrin-B1 and PDZ-RGS3 is specifically seen in progenitor cells and is turned off at the onset of neuronal differentiation. Persistent expression of ephrin-B1 and PDZ-RGS3 prevents differentiation of neural progenitor cells. Blocking RGS-mediated ephrin-B1 signaling in progenitor cells through RNA interference or expression of dominant-negative mutants results in differentiation. Genetic knockout of ephrin-B1 causes early cell cycle exit and leads to a concomitant loss of neural progenitor cells. Our results indicate that ephrin-B function is critical for the maintenance of the neural progenitor cell state and that this role of ephrin-B is mediated by PDZ-RGS3, likely via interacting with the noncanonical G protein signaling pathway, which is essential in neural progenitor asymmetrical cell division.
The Journal of Cell Biology 07/2008; 181(6):973-83. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic studies in the mouse have implicated ephrin-B2 (encoded by the gene Efnb2) in blood vessel formation, cardiac development and remodeling of the lymphatic vasculature. Here we report that loss of ephrin-B2 leads to defects in populations of cranial and trunk neural crest cells (NCC) and to defective somite development. In addition, we show that Efnb1/Efnb2 double heterozygous embryos exhibit phenotypes in a number of NCC derivatives. Expression of one copy of a mutant version of Efnb2 that lacks tyrosine phosphorylation sites was sufficient to rescue the embryonic phenotypes associated with loss of Efnb2. Our results uncover an important role for ephrin-B2 in NCC and somites during embryogenesis and suggest that ephrin-B2 exerts many of its embryonic function via activation of forward signaling.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA site-specific recombinases (SSRs) such as Cre, FLPe, and phiC31, are powerful tools for analyzing gene function in vertebrates. While the availability of multiple high-efficiency SSRs would facilitate a wide array of genomic engineering possibilities, efficient recombination in mammalian cells has only been observed with Cre recombinase. Here we report the de novo synthesis of mouse codon-optimized FLP (FLPo) and PhiC31 (PhiC31o) SSRs, which result in recombination efficiencies similar to Cre.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growth factor signaling leads to the induction or repression of immediate early genes, but how these genes act collectively as effectors of downstream processes remains unresolved. We have used gene trap-coupled microarray analysis to identify and mutate multiple platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) intermediate early genes in mice. Mutations in these genes lead to a high frequency of phenotypes that affect the same cell types and processes as those controlled by the PDGF pathway. We conclude that these genes form a network that controls specific processes downstream of PDGF signaling.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in X-linked ephrin-B1 in humans cause craniofrontonasal syndrome (CFNS), a disease that affects female patients more severely than males. Sorting of ephrin-B1-positive and -negative cells following X-inactivation has been observed in ephrin-B1(+/-) mice; however, the mechanisms by which mosaic ephrin-B1 expression leads to cell sorting and phenotypic defects remain unknown. Here we show that ephrin-B1(+/-) mice exhibit calvarial defects, a phenotype autonomous to neural crest cells that correlates with cell sorting. We have traced the causes of calvarial defects to impaired differentiation of osteogenic precursors. We show that gap junction communication (GJC) is inhibited at ectopic ephrin boundaries and that ephrin-B1 interacts with connexin43 and regulates its distribution. Moreover, we provide genetic evidence that GJC is implicated in the calvarial defects observed in ephrin-B1(+/-) embryos. Our results uncover a novel role for Eph/ephrins in regulating GJC in vivo and suggest that the pleiotropic defects seen in CFNS patients are due to improper regulation of GJC in affected tissues.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the past years new vectors and methodologies have been developed to carry out large-scale genome-wide insertional mutagenesis screens in the mouse. Gene trapping, the most commonly used technique, is based on the insertion of a retroviral- or plasmid-based vector into a gene, resulting in a loss-of-function mutation, while simultaneously reporting its expression pattern and providing a molecular tag to facilitate cloning. The discovery of vertebrate DNA transposons in the mouse and recent improvements has also led to their increased use in insertional mutagenesis screens. Several public resources have been set-up recently by the academic community to distribute information and materials generated from these large-scale screens. These new resources should accelerate the study and understanding of biological and developmental processes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (Fgfr1) plays pleiotropic roles during embryonic development, but the mechanisms by which this receptor signals in vivo have not previously been elucidated. Biochemical studies have implicated Fgf receptor-specific substrates (Frs2, Frs3) as the principal mediators of Fgfr1 signal transduction to the MAPK and PI3K pathways. To determine the developmental requirements for Fgfr1-Frs signaling, we generated mice (Fgfr1(Delta)Frs/DeltaFrs) in which the Frs2/3-binding site on Fgfr1 is deleted. Fgfr1(Delta)Frs/DeltaFrs embryos die during late embryogenesis, and exhibit defects in neural tube closure and in the development of the tail bud and pharyngeal arches. However, the mutant receptor is able to drive Fgfr1 functions during gastrulation and somitogenesis, and drives normal MAPK responses to Fgf. These findings indicate that Fgfr1 uses distinct signal transduction mechanisms in different developmental contexts, and that some essential functions of this receptor are mediated by Frs-independent signaling.
Development 03/2006; 133(4):663-73. · 6.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene trapping is a method of generating murine embryonic stem (ES) cell lines containing insertional mutations in known and novel genes. A number of international groups have used this approach to create sizeable public cell line repositories available to the scientific community for the generation of mutant mouse strains. The major gene trapping groups worldwide have recently joined together to centralize access to all publicly available gene trap lines by developing a user-oriented Website for the International Gene Trap Consortium (IGTC). This collaboration provides an impressive public informatics resource comprising approximately 45 000 well-characterized ES cell lines which currently represent approximately 40% of known mouse genes, all freely available for the creation of knockout mice on a non-collaborative basis. To standardize annotation and provide high confidence data for gene trap lines, a rigorous identification and annotation pipeline has been developed combining genomic localization and transcript alignment of gene trap sequence tags to identify trapped loci. This information is stored in a new bioinformatics database accessible through the IGTC Website interface. The IGTC Website (www.genetrap.org) allows users to browse and search the database for trapped genes, BLAST sequences against gene trap sequence tags, and view trapped genes within biological pathways. In addition, IGTC data have been integrated into major genome browsers and bioinformatics sites to provide users with outside portals for viewing this data. The development of the IGTC Website marks a major advance by providing the research community with the data and tools necessary to effectively use public gene trap resources for the large-scale characterization of mammalian gene function.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2006; 34(Database issue):D642-8. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFR-alpha) and PDGF ligands are key regulators for embryonic development. Although Pdgfralpha is spatially expressed in the cranial neural crest (CNC)-derived odontogenic mesenchyme, mice deficient for Pdgfralpha are embryonic lethal, making it impossible to investigate the functional significance of PDGF signaling in regulating the fate of CNC cells during tooth morphogenesis. Taking advantage of the kidney capsule assay, we investigated the biological function of PDGF signaling in regulating tooth morphogenesis. Pdgfralpha and Pdgfa are specifically and consistently expressed in the CNC-derived odontogenic mesenchyme and the dental epithelium, respectively, throughout all stages of tooth development, suggesting a paracrine function of PDGF signaling in regulating tooth morphogenesis. Highly concentrated expression patterns of Pdgfralpha and Pdgfa are associated with the developing dental cusp, suggesting possible functional importance of PDGF signaling in regulating cusp formation. Loss of the Pdgfralpha gene does not affect proper odontoblasts proliferation and differentiation in the CNC-derived odontogenic mesenchyme but perturbs the formation of extracellular matrix and the organization of odontoblast cells at the forming cusp area, resulting in dental cusp growth defect. Pdgfralpha-/- mice have complete cleft palate. We show that the cleft palate in Pdgfralpha mutant mice results from an extracellular matrix defect within the CNC-derived palatal mesenchyme. The midline epithelium of the mutant palatal shelf remains functionally competent to mediate palatal fusion once the palatal shelves are placed in close contact in vitro. Collectively, our data suggests that PDGFRalpha and PDGFA are critical regulators for the continued epithelial-mesenchymal interaction during tooth and palate morphogenesis. Disruption of PDGFRalpha signaling disturbs the growth of dental cusp and interferes with the critical extension of palatal shelf during craniofacial development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eph receptors and ephrins have captured the interest of the developmental biology community in recent years for their pleiotropic functions during embryogenesis. Loss-of-function studies using various animal models have demonstrated the involvement of Ephs and ephrins in many aspects of embryogenesis including segmentation, neural crest cells migration, angiogenesis, and axon guidance. An essential property of this signaling pathway is the ability of both Ephs and ephrins to behave as receptors or ligands and their consequent cell autonomous and nonautonomous mode of action. While many reports did not discriminate between Eph autonomous signaling (forward) and ephrin autonomous signaling (reverse), recent genetic and in vivo studies have shown that both forward and reverse signaling play important roles during embryogenesis.