Facial visceral motor neurons display specific rhombomere origin and axon pathfinding behavior in the chick.
In the chick embryo, facial motor neurons comprise branchiomotor and visceral motor subpopulations, which innervate branchial muscles and parasympathetic ganglia, respectively. Although facial motor neurons are known to develop within hindbrain rhombomere 4 (r4) and r5, the precise origins of branchiomotor and visceral motor neuron subpopulations are unclear. We investigated the organization and axon pathfinding of these motor neurons using axonal tracing and rhombomere transplantation in quail-chick chimeras. Our results show that a large majority of branchiomotor neurons originate in r4 but that a cohort of these neurons undergoes a caudal migration from r4 into r5. By contrast, visceral motor neurons develop exclusively in r5. We found that a striking property of facial visceral motor neurons is the ability of their axons to navigate back to appropriate ganglionic targets in the periphery after heterotopic transplantation. These results complement previous studies in which heterotopic facial branchiomotor neurons sent axons to their correct, branchial arch, target. By contrast, when trigeminal branchiomotor neurons were transplanted heterotopically, we found that they were unable to pathfind correctly, and instead projected to an inappropriate target region. Thus, facial and trigeminal motor neuron populations have different axon pathfinding characteristics. (+info)
Drosophila wing development in the absence of dorsal identity.
The developing wing disc of Drosophila is divided into distinct lineage-restricted compartments along both the anterior/posterior (A/P) and dorsal/ventral (D/V) axes. At compartment boundaries, morphogenic signals pattern the disc epithelium and direct appropriate outgrowth and differentiation of adult wing structures. The mechanisms by which affinity boundaries are established and maintained, however, are not completely understood. Compartment-specific adhesive differences and inter-compartment signaling have both been implicated in this process. The selector gene apterous (ap) is expressed in dorsal cells of the wing disc and is essential for D/V compartmentalization, wing margin formation, wing outgrowth and dorsal-specific wing structures. To better understand the mechanisms of Ap function and compartment formation, we have rescued aspects of the ap mutant phenotype with genes known to be downstream of Ap. We show that Fringe (Fng), a secreted protein involved in modulation of Notch signaling, is sufficient to rescue D/V compartmentalization, margin formation and wing outgrowth when appropriately expressed in an ap mutant background. When Fng and alphaPS1, a dorsally expressed integrin subunit, are co-expressed, a nearly normal-looking wing is generated. However, these wings are entirely of ventral identity. Our results demonstrate that a number of wing development features, including D/V compartmentalization and wing vein formation, can occur independently of dorsal identity and that inter-compartmental signaling, refined by Fng, plays the crucial role in maintaining the D/V affinity boundary. In addition, it is clear that key functions of the ap selector gene are mediated by only a small number of downstream effectors. (+info)
Drosophila Tsc1 functions with Tsc2 to antagonize insulin signaling in regulating cell growth, cell proliferation, and organ size.
Tuberous sclerosis complex is a dominant disorder that leads to the development of benign tumors in multiple organs. We have isolated a mutation in the Drosophila homolog of TSC1 (Tsc1). Cells mutant for Tsc1 are dramatically increased in size yet differentiate normally. Organ size is also increased in tissues that contain a majority of mutant cells. Clones of Tsc1 mutant cells in the imaginal discs undergo additional divisions but retain normal ploidy. We also show that the Tsc1 protein binds to Drosophila Tsc2 in vitro. Overexpression of Tsc1 or Tsc2 alone in the wing and eye has no effect, but co-overexpression leads to a decrease in cell size, cell number, and organ size. Genetic epistasis data are consistent with a model that Tsc1 and Tsc2 function together in the insulin signaling pathway. (+info)
Morphogenesis of prechordal plate and notochord requires intact Eph/ephrin B signaling.
Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, mediate cell-to-cell signals implicated in the regulation of cell migration processes during development. We report the molecular cloning and tissue distribution of zebrafish transmembrane ephrins that represent all known members of the mammalian class B ephrin family. The degree of homology among predicted ephrin B sequences suggests that, similar to their mammalian counterparts, zebrafish B-ephrins can also bind promiscuously to several Eph receptors. The dynamic expression patterns for each zebrafish B-ephrin support the idea that these ligands are confined to interact with their receptors at the borders of their complementary expression domains. Zebrafish B-ephrins are expressed as early as 30% epiboly and during gastrula stages: in the germ ring, shield, prechordal plate, and notochord. Ectopic overexpression of dominant-negative soluble ephrin B constructs yields reproducible defects in the morphology of the notochord and prechordal plate by the end of gastrulation. Notably disruption of Eph/ephrin B signaling does not completely destroy structures examined, suggesting that cell fate specification is not altered. Thus abnormal morphogenesis of the prechordal plate and the notochord is likely a consequence of a cell movement defect. Our observations suggest Eph/ephrin B signaling plays an essential role in regulating cell movements during gastrulation. (+info)
Generation of a novel functional neuronal circuit in Hoxa1 mutant mice.
Early organization of the vertebrate brainstem is characterized by cellular segmentation into compartments, the rhombomeres, which follow a metameric pattern of neuronal development. Expression of the homeobox genes of the Hox family precedes rhombomere formation, and analysis of mouse Hox mutations revealed that they play an important role in the establishment of rhombomere-specific neuronal patterns. However, segmentation is a transient feature, and a dramatic reconfiguration of neurons and synapses takes place during fetal and postnatal stages. Thus, it is not clear whether the early rhombomeric pattern of Hox expression has any influence on the establishment of the neuronal circuitry of the mature brainstem. The Hoxa1 gene is the earliest Hox gene expressed in the developing hindbrain. Moreover, it is rapidly downregulated. Previous analysis of mouse Hoxa1(-/-) mutants has focused on early alterations of hindbrain segmentation and patterning. Here, we show that ectopic neuronal groups in the hindbrain of Hoxa1(-/-) mice establish a supernumerary neuronal circuit that escapes apoptosis and becomes functional postnatally. This system develops from mutant rhombomere 3 (r3)-r4 levels, includes an ectopic group of progenitors with r2 identity, and integrates the rhythm-generating network controlling respiration at birth. This is the first demonstration that changes in Hox expression patterns allow the selection of novel neuronal circuits regulating vital adaptive behaviors. The implications for the evolution of brainstem neural networks are discussed. (+info)
Drosophila neuralized is a ubiquitin ligase that promotes the internalization and degradation of delta.
The Drosophila gene neuralized (neur) has long been recognized to be essential for the proper execution of a wide variety of processes mediated by the Notch (N) pathway, but its role in the pathway has been elusive. In this report, we present genetic and biochemical evidence that Neur is a RING-type, E3 ubiquitin ligase. Next, we show that neur is required for proper internalization of Dl in the developing eye. Finally, we demonstrate that ectopic Neur targets Dl for internalization and degradation in a RING finger-dependent manner, and that the two exist in a physical complex. Collectively, our data indicate that Neur is a ubiquitin ligase that positively regulates the N pathway by promoting the endocytosis and degradation of Dl. (+info)
neuralized Encodes a peripheral membrane protein involved in delta signaling and endocytosis.
Activation of the Notch (N) receptor involves an intracellular proteolytic step triggered by shedding of the extracellular N domain (N-EC) upon ligand interaction. The ligand Dl has been proposed to effect this N-EC shedding by transendocytosing the latter into the signal-emitting cell. We find that Dl endocytosis and N signaling are greatly stimulated by expression of neuralized (neur). neur inactivation suppresses Dl endocytosis, while its overexpression enhances Dl endocytosis and Notch-dependent signaling. We show that neur encodes an intracellular peripheral membrane protein. Its C-terminal RING domain is necessary for Dl accumulation in endosomes, but may be dispensable for Dl signaling. The potent modulatory effect of Neur on Dl activity makes Neur a candidate for establishing signaling asymmetries within cellular equivalence groups. (+info)
Hindbrain patterning: Krox20 couples segmentation and specification of regional identity.
We have previously demonstrated that inactivation of the Krox20 gene led to the disappearance of its segmental expression territories in the hindbrain, the rhombomeres (r) 3 and 5. We now performed a detailed analysis of the fate of prospective r3 and r5 cells in Krox20 mutant embryos. Genetic fate mapping indicates that at least some of these cells persist in the absence of a functional Krox20 protein and uncovers the requirement for autoregulatory mechanisms in the expansion and maintenance of Krox20-expressing territories. Analysis of even-numbered rhombomere molecular markers demonstrates that in Krox20-null embryos, r3 cells acquire r2 or r4 identity, and r5 cells acquire r6 identity. Finally, study of embryonic chimaeras between Krox20 homozygous mutant and wild-type cells shows that the mingling properties of r3/r5 mutant cells are changed towards those of even-numbered rhombomere cells. Together, these data demonstrate that Krox20 is essential to the generation of alternating odd- and even-numbered territories in the hindbrain and that it acts by coupling the processes of segment formation, cell segregation and specification of regional identity. (+info)