Stromal cells mediate retinoid-dependent functions essential for renal development.
The essential role of vitamin A and its metabolites, retinoids, in kidney development has been demonstrated in vitamin A deficiency and gene targeting studies. Retinoids signal via nuclear transcription factors belonging to the retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and retinoid X receptor (RXR) families. Inactivation of RARaplpha and RARbeta2 receptors together, but not singly, resulted in renal malformations, suggesting that within a given renal cell type, their concerted function is required for renal morphogenesis. At birth, RARalpha beta2(-) mutants displayed small kidneys, containing few ureteric bud branches, reduced numbers of nephrons and lacking the nephrogenic zone where new nephrons are continuously added. These observations have prompted us to investigate the role of RARalpha and RARbeta2 in renal development in detail. We have found that within the embryonic kidney, RARalpha and RARbeta2 are colocalized in stromal cells, but not in other renal cell types, suggesting that stromal cells mediate retinoid-dependent functions essential for renal development. Analysis of RARalpha beta2(-) mutant kidneys at embryonic stages revealed that nephrons were formed and revealed no changes in the intensity or distribution of molecular markers specific for different metanephric mesenchymal cell types. In contrast the development of the collecting duct system was greatly impaired in RARalpha beta2(-) mutant kidneys. Fewer ureteric bud branches were present, and ureteric bud ends were positioned abnormally, at a distance from the renal capsule. Analysis of genes important for ureteric bud morphogenesis revealed that the proto-oncogene c-ret was downregulated. Our results suggest that RARalpha and RARbeta2 are required for generating stromal cell signals that maintain c-ret expression in the embryonic kidney. Since c-ret signaling is required for ureteric bud morphogenesis, loss of c-ret expression is a likely cause of impaired ureteric bud branching in RARalpha beta2(-) mutants. (+info)
VEGF is required for growth and survival in neonatal mice.
We employed two independent approaches to inactivate the angiogenic protein VEGF in newborn mice: inducible, Cre-loxP- mediated gene targeting, or administration of mFlt(1-3)-IgG, a soluble VEGF receptor chimeric protein. Partial inhibition of VEGF achieved by inducible gene targeting resulted in increased mortality, stunted body growth and impaired organ development, most notably of the liver. Administration of mFlt(1-3)-IgG, which achieves a higher degree of VEGF inhibition, resulted in nearly complete growth arrest and lethality. Ultrastructural analysis documented alterations in endothelial and other cell types. Histological and biochemical changes consistent with liver and renal failure were observed. Endothelial cells isolated from the liver of mFlt(1-3)-IgG-treated neonates demonstrated an increased apoptotic index, indicating that VEGF is required not only for proliferation but also for survival of endothelial cells. However, such treatment resulted in less significant alterations as the animal matured, and the dependence on VEGF was eventually lost some time after the fourth postnatal week. Administration of mFlt(1-3)-IgG to juvenile mice failed to induce apoptosis in liver endothelial cells. Thus, VEGF is essential for growth and survival in early postnatal life. However, in the fully developed animal, VEGF is likely to be involved primarily in active angiogenesis processes such as corpus luteum development. (+info)
FGF8 induces formation of an ectopic isthmic organizer and isthmocerebellar development via a repressive effect on Otx2 expression.
Beads containing recombinant FGF8 (FGF8-beads) were implanted in the prospective caudal diencephalon or midbrain of chick embryos at stages 9-12. This induced the neuroepithelium rostral and caudal to the FGF8-bead to form two ectopic, mirror-image midbrains. Furthermore, cells in direct contact with the bead formed an outgrowth that protruded laterally from the neural tube. Tissue within such lateral outgrowths developed proximally into isthmic nuclei and distally into a cerebellum-like structure. These morphogenetic effects were apparently due to FGF8-mediated changes in gene expression in the vicinity of the bead, including a repressive effect on Otx2 and an inductive effect on En1, Fgf8 and Wnt1 expression. The ectopic Fgf8 and Wnt1 expression domains formed nearly complete concentric rings around the FGF8-bead, with the Wnt1 ring outermost. These observations suggest that FGF8 induces the formation of a ring-like ectopic signaling center (organizer) in the lateral wall of the brain, similar to the one that normally encircles the neural tube at the isthmic constriction, which is located at the boundary between the prospective midbrain and hindbrain. This ectopic isthmic organizer apparently sends long-range patterning signals both rostrally and caudally, resulting in the development of the two ectopic midbrains. Interestingly, our data suggest that these inductive signals spread readily in a caudal direction, but are inhibited from spreading rostrally across diencephalic neuromere boundaries. These results provide insights into the mechanism by which FGF8 induces an ectopic organizer and suggest that a negative feedback loop between Fgf8 and Otx2 plays a key role in patterning the midbrain and anterior hindbrain. (+info)
A Wnt5a pathway underlies outgrowth of multiple structures in the vertebrate embryo.
Morphogenesis depends on the precise control of basic cellular processes such as cell proliferation and differentiation. Wnt5a may regulate these processes since it is expressed in a gradient at the caudal end of the growing embryo during gastrulation, and later in the distal-most aspect of several structures that extend from the body. A loss-of-function mutation of Wnt5a leads to an inability to extend the A-P axis due to a progressive reduction in the size of caudal structures. In the limbs, truncation of the proximal skeleton and absence of distal digits correlates with reduced proliferation of putative progenitor cells within the progress zone. However, expression of progress zone markers, and several genes implicated in distal outgrowth and patterning including Distalless, Hoxd and Fgf family members was not altered. Taken together with the outgrowth defects observed in the developing face, ears and genitals, our data indicates that Wnt5a regulates a pathway common to many structures whose development requires extension from the primary body axis. The reduced number of proliferating cells in both the progress zone and the primitive streak mesoderm suggests that one function of Wnt5a is to regulate the proliferation of progenitor cells. (+info)
Membrane-tethered Drosophila Armadillo cannot transduce Wingless signal on its own.
Drosophila Armadillo and its vertebrate homolog beta-catenin are key effectors of Wingless/Wnt signaling. In the current model, Wingless/Wnt signal stabilizes Armadillo/beta-catenin, which then accumulates in nuclei and binds TCF/LEF family proteins, forming bipartite transcription factors which activate transcription of Wingless/Wnt responsive genes. This model was recently challenged. Overexpression in Xenopus of membrane-tethered beta-catenin or its paralog plakoglobin activates Wnt signaling, suggesting that nuclear localization of Armadillo/beta-catenin is not essential for signaling. Tethered plakoglobin or beta-catenin might signal on their own or might act indirectly by elevating levels of endogenous beta-catenin. We tested these hypotheses in Drosophila by removing endogenous Armadillo. We generated a series of mutant Armadillo proteins with altered intracellular localizations, and expressed these in wild-type and armadillo mutant backgrounds. We found that membrane-tethered Armadillo cannot signal on its own; however it can function in adherens junctions. We also created mutant forms of Armadillo carrying heterologous nuclear localization or nuclear export signals. Although these signals alter the subcellular localization of Arm when overexpressed in Xenopus, in Drosophila they have little effect on localization and only subtle effects on signaling. This supports a model in which Armadillo's nuclear localization is key for signaling, but in which Armadillo intracellular localization is controlled by the availability and affinity of its binding partners. (+info)
Intracellular signalling: PDK1--a kinase at the hub of things.
Phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) is at the hub of many signalling pathways, activating PKB and PKC isoenzymes, as well as p70 S6 kinase and perhaps PKA. PDK1 action is determined by colocalization with substrate and by target site availability, features that may enable it to operate in both resting and stimulated cells. (+info)
Alzheimer's disease: clues from flies and worms.
Presenilin mutations give rise to familial Alzheimer's disease and result in elevated production of amyloid beta peptide. Recent evidence that presenilins act in developmental signalling pathways may be the key to understanding how senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and apoptosis are all biochemically linked. (+info)
Concomitant activation of pathways downstream of Grb2 and PI 3-kinase is required for MET-mediated metastasis.
The Met tyrosine kinase - the HGF receptor - induces cell transformation and metastasis when constitutively activated. Met signaling is mediated by phosphorylation of two carboxy-terminal tyrosines which act as docking sites for a number of SH2-containing molecules. These include Grb2 and p85 which couple the receptor, respectively, with Ras and PI 3-kinase. We previously showed that a Met mutant designed to obtain preferential coupling with Grb2 (Met2xGrb2) is permissive for motility, increases transformation, but - surprisingly - is impaired in causing invasion and metastasis. In this work we used Met mutants optimized for binding either p85 alone (Met2xPI3K) or p85 and Grb2 (MetPI3K/Grb2) to evaluate the relative importance of Ras and PI 3-kinase as downstream effectors of Met. Met2xPI3K was competent in eliciting motility, but not transformation, invasion, or metastasis. Conversely, MetP13K/Grb2 induced motility, transformation, invasion and metastasis as efficiently as wild type Met. Furthermore, the expression of constitutively active PI 3-kinase in cells transformed by the Met2xGrb2 mutant, fully rescued their ability to invade and metastasize. These data point to a central role for PI 3-kinase in Met-mediated invasiveness, and indicate that simultaneous activation of Ras and PI 3-kinase is required to unleash the Met metastatic potential. (+info)