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)
The homeobox gene Pitx2: mediator of asymmetric left-right signaling in vertebrate heart and gut looping.
Left-right asymmetry in vertebrates is controlled by activities emanating from the left lateral plate. How these signals get transmitted to the forming organs is not known. A candidate mediator in mouse, frog and zebrafish embryos is the homeobox gene Pitx2. It is asymmetrically expressed in the left lateral plate mesoderm, tubular heart and early gut tube. Localized Pitx2 expression continues when these organs undergo asymmetric looping morphogenesis. Ectopic expression of Xnr1 in the right lateral plate induces Pitx2 transcription in Xenopus. Misexpression of Pitx2 affects situs and morphology of organs. These experiments suggest a role for Pitx2 in promoting looping of the linear heart and gut. (+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)
Recent work on Drosophila oogenesis has uncovered connections between cell-cycle checkpoints and pattern formation. Genes of the spindle class, which encode double-strand break repair enzymes and RNA helicases, affect oocyte polarity and the decision whether to differentiate as an oocyte or a nurse cell. (+info)
Meiosis: MeiRNA hits the spot.
The protein Mei2 performs at least two functions required in fission yeast for the switch from mitotic to meiotic cell cycles. One of these functions also requires meiRNA. It appears that meiRNA targets Mei2 to the nucleus, where it can promote the first meiotic division. (+info)
The hematopoietic-specific adaptor protein gads functions in T-cell signaling via interactions with the SLP-76 and LAT adaptors.
BACKGROUND: The adaptor protein Gads is a Grb2-related protein originally identified on the basis of its interaction with the tyrosine-phosphorylated form of the docking protein Shc. Gads protein expression is restricted to hematopoietic tissues and cell lines. Gads contains a Src homology 2 (SH2) domain, which has previously been shown to have a similar binding specificity to that of Grb2. Gads also possesses two SH3 domains, but these have a distinct binding specificity to those of Grb2, as Gads does not bind to known Grb2 SH3 domain targets. Here, we investigated whether Gads is involved in T-cell signaling. RESULTS: We found that Gads is highly expressed in T cells and that the SLP-76 adaptor protein is a major Gads-associated protein in vivo. The constitutive interaction between Gads and SLP-76 was mediated by the carboxy-terminal SH3 domain of Gads and a 20 amino-acid proline-rich region in SLP-76. Gads also coimmunoprecipitated the tyrosine-phosphorylated form of the linker for activated T cells (LAT) adaptor protein following cross-linking of the T-cell receptor; this interaction was mediated by the Gads SH2 domain. Overexpression of Gads and SLP-76 resulted in a synergistic augmentation of T-cell signaling, as measured by activation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), and this cooperation required a functional Gads SH2 domain. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that Gads plays an important role in T-cell signaling via its association with SLP-76 and LAT. Gads may promote cross-talk between the LAT and SLP-76 signaling complexes, thereby coupling membrane-proximal events to downstream signaling pathways. (+info)
Insect evolution: Redesigning the fruitfly.
Homeotic mutations in Drosophila can result in dramatic phenotypes that suggest the possibility for rapid morphological evolution, but dissection of the genetic pathway downstream of Ultrabithorax is beginning to reveal how wing morphology may have evolved by more gradual transformations. (+info)
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  . 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   , Prospero    and Miranda   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 . Like the Inscuteable protein, the inscuteable RNA is asymmetrically localized . 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)