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(1/3840) The surface ectoderm is essential for nephric duct formation in intermediate mesoderm.

The nephric duct is the first epithelial tubule to differentiate from intermediate mesoderm that is essential for all further urogenital development. In this study we identify the domain of intermediate mesoderm that gives rise to the nephric duct and demonstrate that the surface ectoderm is required for its differentiation. Removal of the surface ectoderm resulted in decreased levels of Sim-1 and Pax-2 mRNA expression in mesenchymal nephric duct progenitors, and caused inhibition of nephric duct formation and subsequent kidney development. The surface ectoderm expresses BMP-4 and we show that it is required for the maintenance of high-level BMP-4 expression in lateral plate mesoderm. Addition of a BMP-4-coated bead to embryos lacking the surface ectoderm restored normal levels of Sim-1 and Pax-2 mRNA expression in nephric duct progenitors, nephric duct formation and the initiation of nephrogenesis. Thus, BMP-4 signaling can substitute for the surface ectoderm in supporting nephric duct morphogenesis. Collectively, these data suggest that inductive interactions between the surface ectoderm, lateral mesoderm and intermediate mesoderm are essential for nephric duct formation and the initiation of urogenital development.  (+info)

(2/3840) A Drosophila doublesex-related gene, terra, is involved in somitogenesis in vertebrates.

The Drosophila doublesex (dsx) gene encodes a transcription factor that mediates sex determination. We describe the characterization of a novel zebrafish zinc-finger gene, terra, which contains a DNA binding domain similar to that of the Drosophila dsx gene. However, unlike dsx, terra is transiently expressed in the presomitic mesoderm and newly formed somites. Expression of terra in presomitic mesoderm is restricted to cells that lack expression of MyoD. In vivo, terra expression is reduced by hedgehog but enhanced by BMP signals. Overexpression of terra induces rapid apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that a tight regulation of terra expression is required during embryogenesis. Terra has both human and mouse homologs and is specifically expressed in mouse somites. Taken together, our findings suggest that terra is a highly conserved protein that plays specific roles in early somitogenesis of vertebrates.  (+info)

(3/3840) 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)

(4/3840) 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)

(5/3840) Isolation of zebrafish gdf7 and comparative genetic mapping of genes belonging to the growth/differentiation factor 5, 6, 7 subgroup of the TGF-beta superfamily.

The Growth/differentiation factor (Gdf) 5, 6, 7 genes form a closely related subgroup belonging to the TGF-beta superfamily. In zebrafish, there are three genes that belong to the Gdf5, 6, 7 subgroup that have been named radar, dynamo, and contact. The genes radar and dynamo both encode proteins most similar to mouse GDF6. The orthologous identity of these genes on the basis of amino acid similarities has not been clear. We have identified gdf7, a fourth zebrafish gene belonging to the Gdf5, 6, 7 subgroup. To assign correct orthologies and to investigate the evolutionary relationships of the human, mouse, and zebrafish Gdf5, 6, 7 subgroup, we have compared genetic map positions of the zebrafish and mammalian genes. We have mapped zebrafish gdf7 to linkage group (LG) 17, contact to LG9, GDF6 to human chromosome (Hsa) 8 and GDF7 to Hsa2p. The radar and dynamo genes have been localized previously to LG16 and LG19, respectively. A comparison of syntenies shared among human, mouse, and zebrafish genomes indicates that gdf7 is the ortholog of mammalian GDF7/Gdf7. LG16 shares syntenic relationships with mouse chromosome (Mmu) 4, including Gdf6. Portions of LG16 and LG19 appear to be duplicate chromosomes, thus suggesting that radar and dynamo are both orthologs of Gdf6. Finally, the mapping data is consistent with contact being the zebrafish ortholog of mammalian GDF5/Gdf5.  (+info)

(6/3840) Cloning and functional characterization of the 5'-flanking region of the human bone morphogenetic protein-2 gene.

Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) is involved in bone formation, organogenesis or pattern formation during development. The expression of BMP-2 is regulated accurately and coordinately with that of other transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily members. To elucidate the mechanism underlying the regulation of BMP-2 expression, a 6.7 kb SpeI-SalI fragment, from the P1 phage library, encompassing the 5'-flanking region of the human BMP-2 gene, was isolated and sequenced. Transcription start sites were mapped by the 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) method. It has been found that the human BMP-2 gene contains, largely, two promoter regions surrounded by GC-rich sequences with several Sp1 consensus motifs. The proximal promoter possesses a single start site, whereas several start sites are clustered in the distal promoter region. Neither TATA nor CAAT consensus sequences are found in the proximity of the start sites for either promoter. Interestingly, in no case is the transcription-initiation site common between the human and mouse BMP-2 genes, although the sequence of the BMP-2 gene is well conserved in the promoter region between two species. Transient transfection experiments with the reporter fused with various lengths of the BMP-2 promoter sequence demonstrated that there exist enhancer elements in an 1.1 kb GC-rich fragment covering both promoter regions. It is noteworthy that the enhancer elements are 5'-flanked by a 790 bp strong repressor element that is characterized by numerous AT stretches. This intriguing organization may be amenable to the tight control of the expression of BMP-2 that is essential for development or bone morphogenesis.  (+info)

(7/3840) Convergence of transforming growth factor-beta and vitamin D signaling pathways on SMAD transcriptional coactivators.

Cell proliferation and differentiation are regulated by growth regulatory factors such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and the liphophilic hormone vitamin D. TGF-beta causes activation of SMAD proteins acting as coactivators or transcription factors in the nucleus. Vitamin D controls transcription of target genes through the vitamin D receptor (VDR). Smad3, one of the SMAD proteins downstream in the TGF-beta signaling pathway, was found in mammalian cells to act as a coactivator specific for ligand-induced transactivation of VDR by forming a complex with a member of the steroid receptor coactivator-1 protein family in the nucleus. Thus, Smad3 may mediate cross-talk between vitamin D and TGF-beta signaling pathways.  (+info)

(8/3840) Bmp4 is required for the generation of primordial germ cells in the mouse embryo.

In many organisms the allocation of primordial germ cells (PGCs) is determined by the inheritance of maternal factors deposited in the egg. However, in mammals, inductive cell interactions are required around gastrulation to establish the germ line. Here, we show that Bmp4 homozygous null embryos contain no PGCs. They also lack an allantois, an extraembryonic mesodermal tissue derived, like the PGCs, from precursors in the proximal epiblast. Heterozygotes have fewer PGCs than normal, due to a reduction in the size of the founding population and not to an effect on its subsequent expansion. Analysis of beta-galactosidase activity in Bmp4(lacZneo) embryos reveals that prior to gastrulation, Bmp4 is expressed in the extraembryonic ectoderm. Later, Bmp4 is expressed in the extraembryonic mesoderm, but not in PGCs. Chimera analysis indicates that it is the Bmp4 expression in the extraembryonic ectoderm that regulates the formation of allantois and primordial germ cell precursors, and the size of the founding population of PGCs. The initiation of the germ line in the mouse therefore depends on a secreted signal from the previously segregated, extraembryonic, trophectoderm lineage.  (+info)