(1/18351) 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)

(2/18351) Ultrabithorax function in butterfly wings and the evolution of insect wing patterns.

BACKGROUND: . The morphological and functional evolution of appendages has played a critical role in animal evolution, but the developmental genetic mechanisms underlying appendage diversity are not understood. Given that homologous appendage development is controlled by the same Hox gene in different organisms, and that Hox genes are transcription factors, diversity may evolve from changes in the regulation of Hox target genes. Two impediments to understanding the role of Hox genes in morphological evolution have been the limited number of organisms in which Hox gene function can be studied and the paucity of known Hox-regulated target genes. We have therefore analyzed a butterfly homeotic mutant 'Hindsight', in which portions of the ventral hindwing pattern are transformed to ventral forewing identity, and we have compared the regulation of target genes by the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) gene product in Lepidopteran and Dipteran hindwings. RESULTS: . We show that Ubx gene expression is lost from patches of cells in developing Hindsight hindwings, correlating with changes in wing pigmentation, color pattern elements, and scale morphology. We use this mutant to study how regulation of target genes by Ubx protein differs between species. We find that several Ubx-regulated genes in the Drosophila haltere are not repressed by Ubx in butterfly hindwings, but that Distal-less (Dll) expression is regulated by Ubx in a unique manner in butterflies. CONCLUSIONS: . The morphological diversification of insect hindwings has involved the acquisition of different sets of target genes by Ubx in different lineages. Changes in Hox-regulated target gene sets are, in general, likely to underlie the morphological divergence of homologous structures between animals.  (+info)

(3/18351) Association of snRNA genes with coiled bodies is mediated by nascent snRNA transcripts.

BACKGROUND: Coiled bodies are nuclear organelles that are highly enriched in small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) and certain basal transcription factors. Surprisingly, coiled bodies not only contain mature U snRNPs but also associate with specific chromosomal loci, including gene clusters that encode U snRNAs and histone messenger RNAs. The mechanism(s) by which coiled bodies associate with these genes is completely unknown. RESULTS: Using stable cell lines, we show that artificial tandem arrays of human U1 and U2 snRNA genes colocalize with coiled bodies and that the frequency of the colocalization depends directly on the transcriptional activity of the array. Association of the genes with coiled bodies was abolished when the artificial U2 arrays contained promoter mutations that prevent transcription or when RNA polymerase II transcription was globally inhibited by alpha-amanitin. Remarkably, the association was also abolished when the U2 snRNA coding regions were replaced by heterologous sequences. CONCLUSIONS: The requirement for the U2 snRNA coding region indicates that association of snRNA genes with coiled bodies is mediated by the nascent U2 RNA itself, not by DNA or DNA-bound proteins. Our data provide the first evidence that association of genes with a nuclear organelle can be directed by an RNA and suggest an autogenous feedback regulation model.  (+info)

(4/18351) Deletion analysis of the Drosophila Inscuteable protein reveals domains for cortical localization and asymmetric localization.

The Drosophila Inscuteable protein acts as a key regulator of asymmetric cell division during the development of the nervous system [1] [2]. In neuroblasts, Inscuteable localizes into an apical cortical crescent during late interphase and most of mitosis. During mitosis, Inscuteable is required for the correct apical-basal orientation of the mitotic spindle and for the asymmetric segregation of the proteins Numb [3] [4] [5], Prospero [5] [6] [7] and Miranda [8] [9] into the basal daughter cell. When Inscuteable is ectopically expressed in epidermal cells, which normally orient their mitotic spindle parallel to the embryo surface, these cells reorient their mitotic spindle and divide perpendicularly to the surface [1]. Like the Inscuteable protein, the inscuteable RNA is asymmetrically localized [10]. We show here that inscuteable RNA localization is not required for Inscuteable protein localization. We found that a central 364 amino acid domain - the Inscuteable asymmetry domain - was necessary and sufficient for Inscuteable localization and function. Within this domain, a separate 100 amino acid region was required for asymmetric localization along the cortex, whereas a 158 amino acid region directed localization to the cell cortex. The same 158 amino acid fragment could localize asymmetrically when coexpressed with the full-length protein, however, and could bind to Inscuteable in vitro, suggesting that this domain may be involved in the self-association of Inscuteable in vivo.  (+info)

(5/18351) 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)

(6/18351) JunB is essential for mammalian placentation.

Lack of JunB, an immediate early gene product and member of the AP-1 transcription factor family causes embryonic lethality between E8.5 and E10.0. Although mutant embryos are severely retarded in growth and development, cellular proliferation is apparently not impaired. Retardation and embryonic death are caused by the inability of JunB-deficient embryos to establish proper vascular interactions with the maternal circulation due to multiple defects in extra-embryonic tissues. The onset of the phenotypic defects correlates well with high expression of junB in wild-type extra-embryonic tissues. In trophoblasts, the lack of JunB causes a deregulation of proliferin, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) gene expression, resulting in a defective neovascularization of the decidua. As a result of downregulation of the VEGF-receptor 1 (flt-1), blood vessels in the yolk sac mesoderm appeared dilated. Mutant embryos which escape these initial defects finally die from a non-vascularized placental labyrinth. Injection of junB-/- embryonic stem (ES) cells into tetraploid wild-type blastocysts resulted in a partial rescue, in which the ES cell-derived fetuses were no longer growth retarded and displayed a normal placental labyrinth. Therefore, JunB appears to be involved in multiple signaling pathways regulating genes involved in the establishment of a proper feto-maternal circulatory system.  (+info)

(7/18351) Loss-of-function mutations in the rice homeobox gene OSH15 affect the architecture of internodes resulting in dwarf plants.

The rice homeobox gene OSH15 (Oryza sativa homeobox) is a member of the knotted1-type homeobox gene family. We report here on the identification and characterization of a loss-of-function mutation in OSH15 from a library of retrotransposon-tagged lines of rice. Based on the phenotype and map position, we have identified three independent deletion alleles of the locus among conventional morphological mutants. All of these recessive mutations, which are considered to be null alleles, exhibit defects in internode elongation. Introduction of a 14 kbp genomic DNA fragment that includes all exons, introns and 5'- and 3'- flanking sequences of OSH15 complemented the defects in internode elongation, confirming that they were caused by the loss-of-function of OSH15. Internodes of the mutants had abnormal-shaped epidermal and hypodermal cells and showed an unusual arrangement of small vascular bundles. These mutations demonstrate a role for OSH15 in the development of rice internodes. This is the first evidence that the knotted1-type homeobox genes have roles other than shoot apical meristem formation and/or maintenance in plant development.  (+info)

(8/18351) The mouse Aire gene: comparative genomic sequencing, gene organization, and expression.

Mutations in the human AIRE gene (hAIRE) result in the development of an autoimmune disease named APECED (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy candidiasis ectodermal dystrophy; OMIM 240300). Previously, we have cloned hAIRE and shown that it codes for a putative transcription-associated factor. Here we report the cloning and characterization of Aire, the murine ortholog of hAIRE. Comparative genomic sequencing revealed that the structure of the AIRE gene is highly conserved between human and mouse. The conceptual proteins share 73% homology and feature the same typical functional domains in both species. RT-PCR analysis detected three splice variant isoforms in various mouse tissues, and interestingly one isoform was conserved in human, suggesting potential biological relevance of this product. In situ hybridization on mouse and human histological sections showed that AIRE expression pattern was mainly restricted to a few cells in the thymus, calling for a tissue-specific function of the gene product.  (+info)