[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Molecular models of cell fate specification typically focus on the activation of specific lineage programs. However, the concurrent repression of unwanted transcriptional networks is also essential to stabilize certain cellular identities, as shown in a number of diverse systems and phyla. Here, we demonstrate that this dual requirement also holds true in the context of Drosophila myogenesis. By integrating genetics and genomics, we identified a new role for the pleiotropic transcriptional repressor Tramtrack69 in myoblast specification. Drosophila muscles are formed through the fusion of two discrete cell types: founder cells (FCs) and fusion-competent myoblasts (FCMs). When tramtrack69 is removed, FCMs appear to adopt an alternative muscle FC-like fate. Conversely, ectopic expression of this repressor phenocopies muscle defects seen in loss-of-function lame duck mutants, a transcription factor specific to FCMs. This occurs through Tramtrack69-mediated repression in FCMs, whereas Lame duck activates a largely distinct transcriptional program in the same cells. Lineage-specific factors are therefore not sufficient to maintain FCM identity. Instead, their identity appears more plastic, requiring the combination of instructive repressive and activating programs to stabilize cell fate.
Full-text available · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Cell Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Genomic structural variation (SV) is a major determinant for phenotypic variation. Although they have been extensively studied in humans, the nucleotide resolution structure of SVs within the widely-used model organism Drosophila remains unknown. We report a highly accurate, densely validated map of unbalanced SVs comprising 8,962 deletions and 916 tandem duplications in 39 lines derived from short-read DNA sequencing in a natural population (the "Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel", DGRP). Most SVs (>90%) were inferred at nucleotide resolution, and a large fraction was genotyped across all samples. Comprehensive analyses of SV formation mechanisms using the short-read data revealed an abundance of SVs formed by mobile element and non-homologous end-joining mediated rearrangements, and clustering of variants into SV hotspots. We further observed a strong depletion of SVs overlapping genes, which, along with population genetics analyses, suggests that these SVs are often deleterious. We inferred several gene fusion events highlighting also the potential role of SVs in the generation of novel protein products. Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping revealed the functional impact of our high-resolution SV map, with quantifiable effects at >100 genic loci. Our map represents a resource for population-level studies of SVs in an important model organism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Cell fate decisions are driven through the integration of inductive signals and tissue-specific transcription factors (TFs), although the details on how this information converges in cis remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the five genetic components essential for cardiac specification in Drosophila, including the effectors of Wg and Dpp signaling, act as a collective unit to cooperatively regulate heart enhancer activity, both in vivo and in vitro. Their combinatorial binding does not require any specific motif orientation or spacing, suggesting an alternative mode of enhancer function whereby cooperative activity occurs with extensive motif flexibility. A fraction of enhancers co-occupied by cardiogenic TFs had unexpected activity in the neighboring visceral mesoderm but could be rendered active in heart through single-site mutations. Given that cardiac and visceral cells are both derived from the dorsal mesoderm, this "dormant" TF binding signature may represent a molecular footprint of these cells' developmental lineage.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Development requires the establishment of precise patterns of gene expression, which are primarily controlled by transcription factors binding to cis-regulatory modules. Although transcription factor occupancy can now be identified at genome-wide scales, decoding this regulatory landscape remains a daunting challenge. Here we used a novel approach to predict spatio-temporal cis-regulatory activity based only on in vivo transcription factor binding and enhancer activity data. We generated a high-resolution atlas of cis-regulatory modules describing their temporal and combinatorial occupancy during Drosophila mesoderm development. The binding profiles of cis-regulatory modules with characterized expression were used to train support vector machines to predict five spatio-temporal expression patterns. In vivo transgenic reporter assays demonstrate the high accuracy of these predictions and reveal an unanticipated plasticity in transcription factor binding leading to similar expression. This data-driven approach does not require previous knowledge of transcription factor sequence affinity, function or expression, making it widely applicable.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Smooth muscle plays a prominent role in many fundamental processes and diseases, yet our understanding of the transcriptional network regulating its development is very limited. The FoxF transcription factors are essential for visceral smooth muscle development in diverse species, although their direct regulatory role remains elusive. We present a transcriptional map of Biniou (a FoxF transcription factor) and Bagpipe (an Nkx factor) activity, as a first step to deciphering the developmental program regulating Drosophila visceral muscle development. A time course of chromatin immunoprecipitatation followed by microarray analysis (ChIP-on-chip) experiments and expression profiling of mutant embryos reveal a dynamic map of in vivo bound enhancers and direct target genes. While Biniou is broadly expressed, it regulates enhancers driving temporally and spatially restricted expression. In vivo reporter assays indicate that the timing of Biniou binding is a key trigger for the time span of enhancer activity. Although bagpipe and biniou mutants phenocopy each other, their regulatory potential is quite different. This network architecture was not apparent from genetic studies, and highlights Biniou as a universal regulator in all visceral muscle, regardless of its developmental origin or subsequent function. The regulatory connection of a number of Biniou target genes is conserved in mice, suggesting an ancient wiring of this developmental program.
Full-text available · Article · Nov 2007 · Genes & Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The shape of a nucleus depends on the nuclear lamina, which is tightly associated with the inner nuclear membrane and on the interaction with the cytoskeleton. However, the mechanism connecting the differentiation state of a cell to the shape changes of its nucleus are not well understood. We investigated this question in early Drosophila embryos, where the nuclear shape changes from spherical to ellipsoidal together with a 2.5-fold increase in nuclear length during cellularization.
We identified two genes, kugelkern and kurzkern, required for nuclear elongation. In kugelkern- and kurzkern-depleted embryos, the nuclei reach only half the length of the wild-type nuclei at the end of cellularization. The reduced nuclear size affects chromocenter formation as marked by Heterochromatin protein 1 and expression of a specific set of genes, including early zygotic genes. kugelkern contains a putative coiled-coil domain in the N-terminal half of the protein, a nuclear localization signal (NLS), and a C-terminal CxxM-motif. The carboxyterminal CxxM motif is required for the targeting of Kugelkern to the inner nuclear membrane, where it colocalizes with lamins. Depending on the farnesylation motif, expression of kugelkern in Drosophila embryos or Xenopus cells induces overproliferation of nuclear membrane.
Kugelkern is so far the first nuclear protein, except for lamins, that contains a farnesylation site. Our findings suggest that Kugelkern is a rate-determining factor for nuclear size increase. We propose that association of farnesylated Kugelkern with the inner nuclear membrane induces expansion of nuclear surface area, allowing nuclear growth.
Full-text available · Article · Apr 2006 · Current Biology