The Drosophila melanogaster homologue of the Xeroderma pigmentosum D gene product is located in euchromatic regions and has a dynamic response to UV light-induced lesions in polytene chromosomes.
The XPD/ERCC2/Rad3 gene is required for excision repair of UV-damaged DNA and is an important component of nucleotide excision repair. Mutations in the XPD gene generate the cancer-prone syndrome, xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne's syndrome, and trichothiodystrophy. XPD has a 5'- to 3'-helicase activity and is a component of the TFIIH transcription factor, which is essential for RNA polymerase II elongation. We present here the characterization of the Drosophila melanogaster XPD gene (DmXPD). DmXPD encodes a product that is highly related to its human homologue. The DmXPD protein is ubiquitous during development. In embryos at the syncytial blastoderm stage, DmXPD is cytoplasmic. At the onset of transcription in somatic cells and during gastrulation in germ cells, DmXPD moves to the nuclei. Distribution analysis in polytene chromosomes shows that DmXPD is highly concentrated in the interbands, especially in the highly transcribed regions known as puffs. UV-light irradiation of third-instar larvae induces an increase in the signal intensity and in the number of sites where the DmXPD protein is located in polytene chromosomes, indicating that the DmXPD protein is recruited intensively in the chromosomes as a response to DNA damage. This is the first time that the response to DNA damage by UV-light irradiation can be visualized directly on the chromosomes using one of the TFIIH components. (+info)
Cell death in the avian blastoderm: resistance to stress-induced apoptosis and expression of anti-apoptotic genes.
We investigated the expression of an apoptotic cell death program in blastodermal cells prior to gastrulation and the susceptibility of these cells to stress-induced cell death. A low frequency (3.1%) of apoptotic blastodermal cells was observed in Hoechst 33342-vitally stained cytological preparations of complete blastoderms from unincubated eggs. These cells showed the stereotypic features of apoptosis including a progression of nuclear changes, cell shrinkage and blebbing, and the formation of apoptotic bodies. Prolonged storage of eggs at 12 degrees C induced apoptosis in blastodermal cells (14%). A modest amount of apoptosis (10%) was also induced at the heat shock temperature of 48 degrees C, but not at 45 degrees C. Etoposide and other potent cytotoxic drugs failed to induce apoptosis in the blastodermal cells after 4 h of exposure. Progressively more apoptosis was induced at 8 and 24 h, but it did not exceed 35% of the cells. We detected transcripts for the anti-apoptotic genes bcl-2, bcl-xL, and hsp70. The developmental expression of these genes, especially hsp70, correlated with the delayed and limited stress-induction of apoptosis. These studies reveal the capacity of pre-streak blastodermal cells to engage in apoptosis and their relative resistance to stress conditions. This may be due to the prominent expression of hsp70 and/or multiple cell death genes which primarily antagonize cell death. (+info)
Reconstitution of the organizer is both sufficient and required to re-establish a fully patterned body plan in avian embryos.
Lateral blastoderm isolates (LBIs) at the late gastrula/early neurula stage (i.e., stage 3d/4) that lack Hensen's node (organizer) and primitive streak can reconstitute a functional organizer and primitive streak within 10-12 hours in culture. We used LBIs to study the initiation and regionalization of the body plan. A complete body plan forms in each LBI by 36 hours in culture, and normal craniocaudal, dorsoventral, and mediolateral axes are re-established. Thus, reconstitution of the organizer is sufficient to re-establish a fully patterned body plan. LBIs can be modified so that reconstitution of the organizer does not occur. In such modified LBIs, tissue-type specific differentiation (with the exception of heart differentiation) and reconstitution of the body plan fail to occur. Thus, the reconstitution of the organizer is not only sufficient to re-establish a fully patterned body plan, it is also required. Finally, our results show that formation and patterning of the heart is under the control of the organizer, and that such control is exerted during the early to mid-gastrula stages (i.e., stages 2-3a), prior to formation of the fully elongated primitive streak. (+info)
Timing and cell interactions underlying neural induction in the chick embryo.
Previous studies on neural induction have identified regionally localized inducing activities, signaling molecules, potential competence factors and various other features of this important, early differentiation event. In this paper, we have developed an improved model system for analyzing neural induction and patterning using transverse blastoderm isolates obtained from gastrulating chick embryos. We use this model to establish the timing of neural specification and the spatial distribution of perinodal cells having organizer activity. We show that a tissue that acts either as an organizer or as an inducer of an organizer is spatially co-localized with the prospective neuroectoderm immediately rostral to the primitive streak in the early gastrula. As the primitive streak elongates, this tissue with organizing activity and the prospective neuroectoderm rostral to the streak separate. Furthermore, we show that up to and through the mid-primitive streak stage (i.e., stage 3c/3+), the prospective neuroectoderm cannot self-differentiate (i.e. , express neural markers and acquire neural plate morphology) in isolation from tissue with organizer activity. Signals from the organizer and from other more caudal regions of the primitive streak act on the rostral prospective neuroectoderm and the latter gains potency (i.e., is specified) by the fully elongated primitive streak stage (i.e., stage 3d). Transverse blastoderm isolates containing non-specified, prospective neuroectoderm provide an improved model system for analyzing early signaling events involved in neuraxis initiation and patterning. (+info)
Analysis of an even-skipped rescue transgene reveals both composite and discrete neuronal and early blastoderm enhancers, and multi-stripe positioning by gap gene repressor gradients.
The entire functional even-skipped locus of Drosophila melanogaster is contained within a 16 kilobase region. As a transgene, this region is capable of rescuing even-skipped mutant flies to fertile adulthood. Detailed analysis of the 7.7 kb of regulatory DNA 3' of the transcription unit revealed ten novel, independently regulated patterns. Most of these patterns are driven by non-overlapping regulatory elements, including ones for syncytial blastoderm stage stripes 1 and 5, while a single element specifies both stripes 4 and 6. Expression analysis in gap gene mutants showed that stripe 5 is restricted anteriorly by Kruppel and posteriorly by giant, the same repressors that regulate stripe 2. Consistent with the coregulation of stripes 4 and 6 by a single cis-element, both the anterior border of stripe 4 and the posterior border of stripe 6 are set by zygotic hunchback, and the region between the two stripes is 'carved out' by knirps. Thus the boundaries of stripes 4 and 6 are set through negative regulation by the same gap gene domains that regulate stripes 3 and 7 (Small, S., Blair, A. and Levine, M. (1996) Dev. Biol. 175, 314-24), but at different concentrations. The 3' region also contains a single element for neurogenic expression in ganglion mother cells 4-2a and 1-1a, and neurons derived from them (RP2, a/pCC), suggesting common regulators in these lineages. In contrast, separable elements were found for expression in EL neurons, U/CQ neurons and the mesoderm. The even-skipped 3' untranslated region is required to maintain late stage protein expression in RP2 and a/pCC neurons, and appears to affect protein levels rather than mRNA levels. Additionally, a strong pairing-sensitive repression element was localized to the 3' end of the locus, but was not found to contribute to efficient functional rescue. (+info)
A transcription unit at the ken and barbie gene locus encodes a novel Drosophila zinc finger protein.
We describe a novel Drosophila transcription unit, located in chromosome region 60A. It encodes a zinc finger protein that is expressed in distinct spatial and temporal patterns during embryogenesis. Its initial expression occurs in a stripe at the anterior and the posterior trunk boundary, respectively. The two stripes are activated and spatially controlled by gap-gene activities. The P-element of the enhancer trap line l(2)02970 is inserted in the 5'-region of the transcript and causes a ken and barbie (ken) phenotype, associated with malformation of male genital structures. (+info)
Induction of the mesendoderm in the zebrafish germ ring by yolk cell-derived TGF-beta family signals and discrimination of mesoderm and endoderm by FGF.
The endoderm forms the gut and associated organs, and develops from a layer of cells which emerges during gastrula stages in the vertebrate embryo. In comparison to mesoderm and ectoderm, little is known about the signals which induce the endoderm. The origin of the endoderm is intimately linked with that of mesoderm, both by their position in the embryo, and by the molecules that can induce them. We characterised a gene, zebrafish gata5, which is expressed in the endoderm from blastula stages and show that its transcription is induced by signals originating from the yolk cell. These signals also induce the mesoderm-expressed transcription factor no tail (ntl), whose initial expression coincides with gata5 in the cells closest to the blastoderm margin, then spreads to encompass the germ ring. We have characterised the induction of these genes and show that ectopic expression of activin induces gata5 and ntl in a pattern which mimics the endogenous expression, while expression of a dominant negative activin receptor abolishes ntl and gata5 expression. Injection of RNA encoding a constitutively active activin receptor leads to ectopic expression of gata5 and ntl. gata5 is activated cell-autonomously, whereas ntl is induced in cells distant from those which have received the RNA, showing that although expression of both genes is induced by a TGF-beta signal, expression of ntl then spreads by a relay mechanism. Expression of a fibroblast growth factor (eFGF) or a dominant negatively acting FGF receptor shows that ntl but not gata5 is regulated by FGF signalling, implying that this may be the relay signal leading to the spread of ntl expression. In embryos lacking both squint and cyclops, members of the nodal group of TGF-beta related molecules, gata5 expression in the blastoderm is abolished, making these factors primary candidates for the endogenous TGF-beta signal inducing gata5. (+info)
Characterization of Ca2+-dependent phospholipase A2 activity during zebrafish embryogenesis.
We have developed a simple fluorescent assay for detection of phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activity in zebrafish embryos that utilizes a fluorescent phosphatidylcholine substrate. By using this assay in conjunction with selective PLA2 inhibitors and Western blot analysis, we identified the principal activity in zebrafish embryogenesis as characteristic of the Ca2+-dependent cytosolic PLA2 (cPLA2) subtype. Embryonic cPLA2 activity remained constant from the 1-cell stage until the onset of somitogenesis, at which time it increased sharply. This increase was preceded by the expression of a previously identified zebrafish cPLA2 homologue (Nalefski, E., Sultzman, L., Martin, D., Kriz, R., Towler, P., Knopf, J., and Clark, J. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 18239-18249). By using a quenched BODIPY-labeled phosphatidylcholine that fluoresces only upon cleavage by PLA2, lipase activity was visualized in the cells of living embryos where it localized to perinuclear membranes. (+info)