Characterization of an amphioxus paired box gene, AmphiPax2/5/8: developmental expression patterns in optic support cells, nephridium, thyroid-like structures and pharyngeal gill slits, but not in the midbrain-hindbrain boundary region.
On the basis of developmental gene expression, the vertebrate central nervous system comprises: a forebrain plus anterior midbrain, a midbrain-hindbrain boundary region (MHB) having organizer properties, and a rhombospinal domain. The vertebrate MHB is characterized by position, by organizer properties and by being the early site of action of Wnt1 and engrailed genes, and of genes of the Pax2/5/8 subfamily. Wada and others (Wada, H., Saiga, H., Satoh, N. and Holland, P. W. H. (1998) Development 125, 1113-1122) suggested that ascidian tunicates have a vertebrate-like MHB on the basis of ascidian Pax258 expression there. In another invertebrate chordate, amphioxus, comparable gene expression evidence for a vertebrate-like MHB is lacking. We, therefore, isolated and characterized AmphiPax2/5/8, the sole member of this subfamily in amphioxus. AmphiPax2/5/8 is initially expressed well back in the rhombospinal domain and not where a MHB would be expected. In contrast, most of the other expression domains of AmphiPax2/5/8 correspond to expression domains of vertebrate Pax2, Pax5 and Pax8 in structures that are probably homologous - support cells of the eye, nephridium, thyroid-like structures and pharyngeal gill slits; although AmphiPax2/5/8 is not transcribed in any structures that could be interpreted as homologues of vertebrate otic placodes or otic vesicles. In sum, the developmental expression of AmphiPax2/5/8 indicates that the amphioxus central nervous system lacks a MHB resembling the vertebrate isthmic region. Additional gene expression data for the developing ascidian and amphioxus nervous systems would help determine whether a MHB is a basal chordate character secondarily lost in amphioxus. The alternative is that the MHB is a vertebrate innovation. (+info)
The role of RBF in the introduction of G1 regulation during Drosophila embryogenesis.
The first appearance of G1 during Drosophila embryogenesis, at cell cycle 17, is accompanied by the down-regulation of E2F-dependent transcription. Mutant alleles of rbf were generated and analyzed to determine the role of RBF in this process. Embryos lacking both maternal and zygotic RBF products show constitutive expression of PCNA and RNR2, two E2F-regulated genes, indicating that RBF is required for their transcriptional repression. Despite the ubiquitous expression of E2F target genes, most epidermal cells enter G1 normally. Rather than pausing in G1 until the appropriate time for cell cycle progression, many of these cells enter an ectopic S-phase. These results indicate that the repression of E2F target genes by RBF is necessary for the maintenance but not the initiation of a G1 phase. The phenotype of RBF-deficient embryos suggests that rbf has a function that is complementary to the roles of dacapo and fizzy-related in the introduction of G1 during Drosophila embryogenesis. (+info)
Cell junctions in the developing compound eye of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria.
Intercellular junctions in the developing retina of the locust Schistocerca gregaria have been examined by electron microscopy. Different types of junction appear in a well defined sequence during development. Five stages of ommatidial development are described. Close junctions and punctate junctions are present throughout development. Gap junctions appear transiently amongst the undifferentiated cells, before clearly defined preommatidia can be distinguished. The subsequent disappearance of gap junctions may be correlated with cell determination. Lanthanum studies confirm these findings. The later sequential appearance of adhesive junction types is described. These include septate desmosomes and two types of desmosomes. In the fully differentiated ommatidium only two types of junction remain, these are: desmosomes and rhabdomeric junctions. (+info)
Neuronal differentiation and patterning in Xenopus: the role of cdk5 and a novel activator xp35.2.
Cdk5, a member of the cyclin-dependent kinase family, has been shown to play an important role in development of the central nervous system in mammals when partnered by its activator p35. Here we describe the cloning and characterization of a novel activator of cdk5 in Xenopus, Xp35.2. Xp35.2 is expressed during development initially in the earliest differentiating primary neurons in the neural plate and then later in differentiating neural tissue of the brain. This is in contrast to the previously described Xenopus cdk5 activator Xp35.1 which is expressed over the entire expanse of the neural plate in both proliferating and differentiating cells. Expression of both Xp35.1 and Xp35.2 and activation of cdk5 kinase occur when terminal neural differentiation is induced by neurogenin and neuro D overexpression but not when only early stages of neural differentiation are induced by noggin. Moreover, blocking cdk5 kinase activity specifically results in disruption and reduction of the embryonic eye where cdk5 and its Xp35 activators are expressed. Thus, cdk5/p35 complexes function in aspects of neural differentiation and patterning in the early embryo and particularly in formation of the eye. (+info)
BMP7 acts in murine lens placode development.
Targeted inactivation of the Bmp7 gene in mouse leads to eye defects with late onset and variable penetrance (A. T. Dudley et al., 1995, Genes Dev. 9, 2795-2807; G. Luo et al., 1995, Genes Dev. 9, 2808-2820). Here we report that the expressivity of the Bmp7 mutant phenotype markedly increases in a C3H/He genetic background and that the phenotype implicates Bmp7 in the early stages of lens development. Immunolocalization experiments show that BMP7 protein is present in the head ectoderm at the time of lens placode induction. Using an in vitro culture system, we demonstrate that addition of BMP7 antagonists during the period of lens placode induction inhibits lens formation, indicating a role for BMP7 in lens placode development. Next, to integrate Bmp7 into a developmental pathway controlling formation of the lens placode, we examined the expression of several early lens placode-specific markers in Bmp7 mutant embryos. In these embryos, Pax6 head ectoderm expression is lost just prior to the time when the lens placode should appear, while in Pax6-deficient (Sey/Sey) embryos, Bmp7 expression is maintained. These results could suggest a simple linear pathway in placode induction in which Bmp7 functions upstream of Pax6 and regulates lens placode induction. At odds with this interpretation, however, is the finding that expression of secreted Frizzled Related Protein-2 (sFRP-2), a component of the Wnt signaling pathway which is expressed in prospective lens placode, is absent in Sey/Sey embryos but initially present in Bmp7 mutants. This suggests a different model in which Bmp7 function is required to maintain Pax6 expression after induction, during a preplacodal stage of lens development. We conclude that Bmp7 is a critical component of the genetic mechanism(s) controlling lens placode formation. (+info)
Isolation and characterization of drosocrystallin, a lens crystallin gene of Drosophila melanogaster.
We have cloned the drosocrystallin gene (dcy) of Drosophila melanogaster, which encodes a major protein of the corneal lens, previously described in part by Komori et al. (1992, J. Cell Sci. 102, 191-201). Synthesis of the DCY protein starts weakly in 2-day-old pupae, reaches a peak at day 3 and day 4 of pupal development, and decreases very fast in young adults. The dcy mRNA is detected in the compound eyes as well as in the ocelli. The presence of a putative signal peptide and the extracellular location of DCY suggest that DCY is a secreted protein. Interestingly, the dcy gene shows sequence similarities to some insect cuticular proteins and is detected as well in two closely related Drosophila species, D. sechellia and D. simulans, and in one more distantly related species, D. virilis. This finding supports the hypothesis that Drosophila used the same strategy as vertebrates and mollusks, namely, recruiting a multifunctional protein for refraction in the lens, by a gene-sharing mechanism. Furthermore, it supports our intercalary evolution hypothesis, which suggests that the development of an elaborate structure (for example, a compound eye) from an original primitive form (an ancestral photoreceptor organ) can be achieved by recruiting novel genes into the original developmental pathway. (+info)
Disrupted retinal development in the embryonic belly spot and tail mutant mouse.
The Belly spot and tail (Bst) semidominant mutation, mapped to mouse Chromosome 16, leads to developmental defects of the eye, skeleton, and coat pigmentation. In the eye, the mutant phenotype is characterized by the presence of retinal colobomas, a paucity of retinal ganglion cells, and axon misrouting. The severity of defects in the Bst/+ retina is variable among individuals and is often asymmetric. In order to determine the role of the Bst locus during retinal morphogenesis, we searched for the earliest observable defects in the developing eye. We examined the retinas of Bst/+ and +/+ littermates from embryonic day 9.5 (E9.5) through E13.5 and measured retinal size, cell density, cell death, mitotic index, and cell birth index. We have found that development of the Bst/+ retina is notably dilatory by as early as E10.5. The affected retinas are smaller than their wildtype counterparts, and optic fissure fusion is delayed. In the mutant, there is a marked lag in the exit of retinal cells from the mitotic cycle, even though there are no observable differences in the rate of cellular proliferation or cell death between the two groups. We hypothesize that Bst regulates retinal cell differentiation and that variability of structural defects in the mutant, such as those affecting optic fissure fusion, is a reflection of the extent of developmental delay brought about by the Bst mutation. (+info)
Telomere loss in somatic cells of Drosophila causes cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.
Checkpoint mechanisms that respond to DNA damage in the mitotic cell cycle are necessary to maintain the fidelity of chromosome transmission. These mechanisms must be able to distinguish the normal telomeres of linear chromosomes from double-strand break damage. However, on several occasions, Drosophila chromosomes that lack their normal telomeric DNA have been recovered, raising the issue of whether Drosophila is able to distinguish telomeric termini from nontelomeric breaks. We used site-specific recombination on a dispensable chromosome to induce the formation of a dicentric chromosome and an acentric, telomere-bearing, chromosome fragment in somatic cells of Drosophila melanogaster. The acentric fragment is lost when cells divide and the dicentric breaks, transmitting a chromosome that has lost a telomere to each daughter cell. In the eye imaginal disc, cells with a newly broken chromosome initially experience mitotic arrest and then undergo apoptosis when cells are induced to divide as the eye differentiates. Therefore, Drosophila cells can detect and respond to a single broken chromosome. It follows that transmissible chromosomes lacking normal telomeric DNA nonetheless must possess functional telomeres. We conclude that Drosophila telomeres can be established and maintained by a mechanism that does not rely on the terminal DNA sequence. (+info)