Novel regulation of the homeotic gene Scr associated with a crustacean leg-to-maxilliped appendage transformation.
Homeotic genes are known to be involved in patterning morphological structures along the antero-posterior axis of insects and vertebrates. Because of their important roles in development, changes in the function and expression patterns of homeotic genes may have played a major role in the evolution of different body plans. For example, it has been proposed that during the evolution of several crustacean lineages, changes in the expression patterns of the homeotic genes Ultrabithorax and abdominal-A have played a role in transformation of the anterior thoracic appendages into mouthparts termed maxillipeds. This homeotic-like transformation is recapitulated at the late stages of the direct embryonic development of the crustacean Porcellio scaber (Oniscidea, Isopoda). Interestingly, this morphological change is associated with apparent novelties both in the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of the Porcellio scaber ortholog of the Drosophila homeotic gene, Sex combs reduced (Scr). Specifically, we find that Scr mRNA is present in the second maxillary segment and the first pair of thoracic legs (T1) in early embryos, whereas protein accumulates only in the second maxillae. In later stages, however, high levels of SCR appear in the T1 legs, which correlates temporally with the transformation of these appendages into maxillipeds. Our observations provide further insight into the process of the homeotic leg-to-maxilliped transformation in the evolution of crustaceans and suggest a novel regulatory mechanism for this process in this group of arthropods. (+info
Mrj encodes a DnaJ-related co-chaperone that is essential for murine placental development.
We have identified a novel gene in a gene trap screen that encodes a protein related to the DnaJ co-chaperone in E. coli. The gene, named Mrj (mammalian relative of DnaJ) was expressed throughout development in both the embryo and placenta. Within the placenta, expression was particularly high in trophoblast giant cells but moderate levels were also observed in trophoblast cells of the chorion at embryonic day 8.5, and later in the labyrinth which arises from the attachment of the chorion to the allantois (a process called chorioallantoic fusion). Insertion of the ROSAbetageo gene trap vector into the Mrj gene created a null allele. Homozygous Mrj mutants died at mid-gestation due to a failure of chorioallantoic fusion at embryonic day 8.5, which precluded formation of the mature placenta. At embryonic day 8.5, the chorion in mutants was morphologically normal and expressed the cell adhesion molecule beta4 integrin that is known to be required for chorioallantoic fusion. However, expression of the chorionic trophoblast-specific transcription factor genes Err2 and Gcm1 was significantly reduced. The mutants showed no abnormal phenotypes in other trophoblast cell types or in the embryo proper. This study indicates a previously unsuspected role for chaperone proteins in placental development and represents the first genetic analysis of DnaJ-related protein function in higher eukaryotes. Based on a survey of EST databases representing different mouse tissues and embryonic stages, there are 40 or more DnaJ-related genes in mammals. In addition to Mrj, at least two of these genes are also expressed in the developing mouse placenta. The specificity of the developmental defect in Mrj mutants suggests that each of these genes may have unique tissue and cellular activities. (+info
Requirement of a novel gene, Xin, in cardiac morphogenesis.
A novel gene, Xin, from chick (cXin) and mouse (mXin) embryonic hearts, may be required for cardiac morphogenesis and looping. Both cloned cDNAs have a single open reading frame, encoding proteins with 2,562 and 1,677 amino acids for cXin and mXin, respectively. The derived amino acid sequences share 46% similarity. The overall domain structures of the predicted cXin and mXin proteins, including proline-rich regions, 16 amino acid repeats, DNA-binding domains, SH3-binding motifs and nuclear localization signals, are highly conserved. Northern blot analyses detect a single message of 8.9 and 5.8 kilo base (kb) from both cardiac and skeletal muscle of chick and mouse, respectively. In situ hybridization reveals that the cXin gene is specifically expressed in cardiac progenitor cells of chick embryos as early as stage 8, prior to heart tube formation. cXin continues to be expressed in the myocardium of developing hearts. By stage 15, cXin expression is also detected in the myotomes of developing somites. Immunofluorescence microscopy reveals that the mXin protein is colocalized with N-cadherin and connexin-43 in the intercalated discs of adult mouse hearts. Incubation of stage 6 chick embryos with cXin antisense oligonucleotides results in abnormal cardiac morphogenesis and an alteration of cardiac looping. The myocardium of the affected hearts becomes thickened and tends to form multiple invaginations into the heart cavity. This abnormal cellular process may account in part for the abnormal looping. cXin expression can be induced by bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) in explants of anterior medial mesoendoderm from stage 6 chick embryos, a tissue that is normally non-cardiogenic. This induction occurs following the BMP-mediated induction of two cardiac-restricted transcription factors, Nkx2.5 and MEF2C. Furthermore, either MEF2C or Nkx2.5 can transactivate a luciferase reporter driven by the mXin promoter in mouse fibroblasts. These results suggest that Xin may participate in a BMP-Nkx2.5-MEF2C pathway to control cardiac morphogenesis and looping. (+info
Mechanisms of GDF-5 action during skeletal development.
Mutations in GDF-5, a member of the TGF-beta superfamily, result in the autosomal recessive syndromes brachypod (bp) in mice and Hunter-Thompson and Grebe-type chondrodysplasias in humans. These syndromes are all characterised by the shortening of the appendicular skeleton and loss or abnormal development of some joints. To investigate how GDF-5 controls skeletogenesis, we overexpressed GDF-5 during chick limb development using the retrovirus, RCASBP. This resulted in up to a 37.5% increase in length of the skeletal elements, which was predominantly due to an increase in the number of chondrocytes. By injecting virus at different stages of development, we show that GDF-5 can increase both the size of the early cartilage condensation and the later developing skeletal element. Using in vitro micromass cultures as a model system to study the early steps of chondrogenesis, we show that GDF-5 increases chondrogenesis in a dose-dependent manner. We did not detect changes in proliferation. However, cell suspension cultures showed that GDF-5 might act at these stages by increasing cell adhesion, a critical determinant of early chondrogenesis. In contrast, pulse labelling experiments of GDF-5-infected limbs showed that at later stages of skeletal development GDF-5 can increase proliferation of chondrocytes. Thus, here we show two mechanisms of how GDF-5 may control different stages of skeletogenesis. Finally, our data show that levels of GDF-5 expression/activity are important in controlling the size of skeletal elements and provides a possible explanation for the variation in the severity of skeletal defects resulting from mutations in GDF-5. (+info
Molecular cloning and epitope analysis of the peanut allergen Ara h 3.
Peanut allergy is a significant IgE-mediated health problem because of the increased prevalence, potential severity, and chronicity of the reaction. Following our characterization of the two peanut allergens Ara h 1 and Ara h 2, we have isolated a cDNA clone encoding a third peanut allergen, Ara h 3. The deduced amino acid sequence of Ara h 3 shows homology to 11S seed-storage proteins. The recombinant form of this protein was expressed in a bacterial system and was recognized by serum IgE from approximately 45% of our peanut-allergic patient population. Serum IgE from these patients and overlapping, synthetic peptides were used to map the linear, IgE-binding epitopes of Ara h 3. Four epitopes, between 10 and 15 amino acids in length, were found within the primary sequence, with no obvious sequence motif shared by the peptides. One epitope is recognized by all Ara h 3-allergic patients. Mutational analysis of the epitopes revealed that single amino acid changes within these peptides could lead to a reduction or loss of IgE binding. By determining which amino acids are critical for IgE binding, it might be possible to alter the Ara h 3 cDNA to encode a protein with a reduced IgE-binding capacity. These results will enable the design of improved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for food-hypersensitivity reactions. (+info
TIF1gamma, a novel member of the transcriptional intermediary factor 1 family.
We report the cloning and characterization of a novel member of the Transcriptional Intermediary Factor 1 (TIF1) gene family, human TIF1gamma. Similar to TIF1alpha and TIF1beta, the structure of TIF1beta is characterized by multiple domains: RING finger, B boxes, Coiled coil, PHD/TTC, and bromodomain. Although structurally related to TIF1alpha and TIF1beta, TIF1gamma presents several functional differences. In contrast to TIF1alpha, but like TIF1beta, TIF1 does not interact with nuclear receptors in yeast two-hybrid or GST pull-down assays and does not interfere with retinoic acid response in transfected mammalian cells. Whereas TIF1alpha and TIF1beta were previously found to interact with the KRAB silencing domain of KOX1 and with the HP1alpha, MODI (HP1beta) and MOD2 (HP1gamma) heterochromatinic proteins, suggesting that they may participate in a complex involved in heterochromatin-induced gene repression, TIF1gamma does not interact with either the KRAB domain of KOX1 or the HP1 proteins. Nevertheless, TIF1gamma, like TIF1alpha and TIF1beta, exhibits a strong silencing activity when tethered to a promoter. Since deletion of a novel motif unique to the three TIF1 proteins, called TIF1 signature sequence (TSS), abrogates transcriptional repression by TIF1gamma, this motif likely participates in TIF1 dependent repression. (+info
Anopheles gambiae Ag-STAT, a new insect member of the STAT family, is activated in response to bacterial infection.
A new insect member of the STAT family of transcription factors (Ag-STAT) has been cloned from the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. The domain involved in DNA interaction and the SH2 domain are well conserved. Ag-STAT is most similar to Drosophila D-STAT and to vertebrate STATs 5 and 6, constituting a proposed ancient class A of the STAT family. The mRNA is expressed at all developmental stages, and the protein is present in hemocytes, pericardial cells, midgut, skeletal muscle and fat body cells. There is no evidence of transcriptional activation following bacterial challenge. However, bacterial challenge results in nuclear translocation of Ag-STAT protein in fat body cells and induction of DNA-binding activity that recognizes a STAT target site. In vitro treatment with pervanadate (vanadate and H2O2) translocates Ag-STAT to the nucleus in midgut epithelial cells. This is the first evidence of direct participation of the STAT pathway in immune responses in insects. (+info
In vivo expression of the nucleolar group I intron-encoded I-dirI homing endonuclease involves the removal of a spliceosomal intron.
The Didymium iridis DiSSU1 intron is located in the nuclear SSU rDNA and has an unusual twin-ribozyme organization. One of the ribozymes (DiGIR2) catalyses intron excision and exon ligation. The other ribozyme (DiGIR1), which along with the endonuclease-encoding I-DirI open reading frame (ORF) is inserted in DiGIR2, carries out hydrolysis at internal processing sites (IPS1 and IPS2) located at its 3' end. Examination of the in vivo expression of DiSSU1 shows that after excision, DiSSU1 is matured further into the I-DirI mRNA by internal DiGIR1-catalysed cleavage upstream of the ORF 5' end, as well as truncation and polyadenylation downstream of the ORF 3' end. A spliceosomal intron, the first to be reported within a group I intron and the rDNA, is removed before the I-DirI mRNA associates with the polysomes. Taken together, our results imply that DiSSU1 uses a unique combination of intron-supplied ribozyme activity and adaptation to the general RNA polymerase II pathway of mRNA expression to allow a protein to be produced from the RNA polymerase I-transcribed rDNA. (+info