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)
Dynamic expression of lunatic fringe suggests a link between notch signaling and an autonomous cellular oscillator driving somite segmentation.
The metameric organization of the vertebrate trunk is a characteristic feature of all members of this phylum. The origin of this metamerism can be traced to the division of paraxial mesoderm into individual units, termed somites, during embryonic development. Despite the identification of somites as the first overt sign of segmentation in vertebrates well over 100 years ago, the mechanism(s) underlying somite formation remain poorly understood. Recently, however, several genes have been identified which play prominent roles in orchestrating segmentation, including the novel secreted factor lunatic fringe. To gain further insight into the mechanism by which lunatic fringe controls somite development, we have conducted a thorough analysis of lunatic fringe expression in the unsegmented paraxial mesoderm of chick embryos. Here we report that lunatic fringe is expressed predominantly in somite -II, where somite I corresponds to the most recently formed somite and somite -I corresponds to the group of cells which will form the next somite. In addition, we show that lunatic fringe is expressed in a highly dynamic manner in the chick segmental plate prior to somite formation and that lunatic fringe expression cycles autonomously with a periodicity of somite formation. Moreover, the murine ortholog of lunatic fringe undergoes a similar cycling expression pattern in the presomitic mesoderm of somite stage mouse embryos. The demonstration of a dynamic periodic expression pattern suggests that lunatic fringe may function to integrate notch signaling to a cellular oscillator controlling somite segmentation. (+info)
Reverse genetic analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans presenilins reveals redundant but unequal roles for sel-12 and hop-1 in Notch-pathway signaling.
Mutations in the human presenilin genes PS1 and PS2 cause early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Studies in Caenorhabditis elegans and in mice indicate that one function of presenilin genes is to facilitate Notch-pathway signaling. Notably, mutations in the C. elegans presenilin gene sel-12 reduce signaling through an activated version of the Notch receptor LIN-12. To investigate the function of a second C. elegans presenilin gene hop-1 and to examine possible genetic interactions between hop-1 and sel-12, we used a reverse genetic strategy to isolate deletion alleles of both loci. Animals bearing both hop-1 and sel-12 deletions displayed new phenotypes not observed in animals bearing either single deletion. These new phenotypes-germ-line proliferation defects, maternal-effect embryonic lethality, and somatic gonad defects-resemble those resulting from a reduction in signaling through the C. elegans Notch receptors GLP-1 and LIN-12. Thus SEL-12 and HOP-1 appear to function redundantly in promoting Notch-pathway signaling. Phenotypic analyses of hop-1 and sel-12 single and double mutant animals suggest that sel-12 provides more presenilin function than does hop-1. (+info)
Requirement for the Drosophila COE transcription factor Collier in formation of an embryonic muscle: transcriptional response to notch signalling.
During Drosophila embryogenesis, mesodermal cells are recruited to form a stereotyped pattern of about 30 different larval muscles per hemisegment. The formation of this pattern is initiated by the specification of a special class of myoblasts, called founder cells, that are uniquely able to fuse with neighbouring myoblasts. We report here the role of the COE transcription factor Collier in the formation of a single muscle, muscle DA3([A])(DA4([T])). Col expression is first observed in two promuscular clusters (in segments A1-A7), the two corresponding progenitors and their progeny founder cells, but its transcription is maintained in only one of these four founder cells, the founder of muscle DA3([A]). This lineage-specific restriction depends on the asymmetric segregation of Numb during the progenitor cell division and involves the repression of col transcription by Notch signalling. In col mutant embryos, the DA3([A]) founder cells form but do not maintain col transcription and are unable to fuse with neighbouring myoblasts, leading to a loss-of-muscle DA3([A]) phenotype. In wild-type embryos, each of the DA3([A])-recruited myoblasts turns on col transcription, indicating that the conversion, by the DA3([A]) founder cell, of 'naive' myoblasts to express its distinctive pattern of gene expression involves activation of col itself. We find that muscles DA3([A]) and DO5([A]) (DA4([T]) and DO5([T])) derive from a common progenitor cell. Ectopic expression of Col is not sufficient, however, to switch the DO5([A]) to a DA3([A]) fate. Together these results lead us to propose that specification of the DA3([A]) muscle lineage requires both Col and at least one other transcription factor, supporting the hypothesis of a combinatorial code of muscle-specific gene regulation controlling the formation and diversification of individual somatic muscles. (+info)
The Enhancer of split complex of Drosophila melanogaster harbors three classes of Notch responsive genes.
Many cell fate decisions in higher animals are based on intercellular communication governed by the Notch signaling pathway. Developmental signals received by the Notch receptor cause Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) mediated transcription of target genes. In Drosophila, the majority of Notch target genes known so far is located in the Enhancer of split complex (E(spl)-C), encoding small basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins that presumably act as transcriptional repressors. Here we show that the E(spl)-C contains three additional Notch responsive, non-bHLH genes: m4 and ma are structurally related, whilst m2 encodes a novel protein. All three genes depend on Su(H) for initiation and/or maintenance of transcription. The two other non-bHLH genes within the locus, m1 and m6, are unrelated to the Notch pathway: m1 might code for a protease inhibitor of the Kazal family, and m6 for a novel peptide. (+info)
T-cell development: What does Notch do for T cells?
During their development, T cells are rescued from apoptotic cell death to follow distinct lineage fates. Recent data concerned with the role of the Notch transmembrane receptor in these events are interpreted to show that Notch promotes survival, but contrary to earlier reports has no function in lineage commitment. (+info)
A developmental pathway controlling outgrowth of the Xenopus tail bud.
We have developed a new assay to identify factors promoting formation and outgrowth of the tail bud. A piece of animal cap filled with the test mRNAs is grafted into the posterior region of the neural plate of a host embryo. With this assay we show that expression of a constitutively active Notch (Notch ICD) in the posterior neural plate is sufficient to produce an ectopic tail consisting of neural tube and fin. The ectopic tails express the evenskipped homologue Xhox3, a marker for the distal tail tip. Xhox3 will also induce formation of an ectopic tail in our assay. We show that an antimorphic version of Xhox3, Xhox3VP16, will prevent tail formation by Notch ICD, showing that Xhox3 is downstream of Notch signalling. An inducible version of this reagent, Xhox3VP16GR, specifically blocks tail formation when induced in tailbud stage embryos, comfirming the importance of Xhox3 for tail bud outgrowth in normal development. Grafts containing Notch ICD will only form tails if placed in the posterior part of the neural plate. However, if Xwnt3a is also present in the grafts they can form tails at any anteroposterior level. Since Xwnt3a expression is localised appropriately in the posterior at the time of tail bud formation it is likely to be responsible for restricting tail forming competence to the posterior neural plate in our assay. Combined expression of Xwnt3a and active Notch in animal cap explants is sufficient to induce Xhox3, provoke elongation and form neural tubes. Conservation of gene expression in the tail bud of other vertebrates suggests that this pathway may describe a general mechanism controlling tail outgrowth and secondary neurulation. (+info)
LvNotch signaling mediates secondary mesenchyme specification in the sea urchin embryo.
Cell-cell interactions are thought to regulate the differential specification of secondary mesenchyme cells (SMCs) and endoderm in the sea urchin embryo. The molecular bases of these interactions, however, are unknown. We have previously shown that the sea urchin homologue of the LIN-12/Notch receptor, LvNotch, displays dynamic patterns of expression within both the presumptive SMCs and endoderm during the blastula stage, the time at which these two cell types are thought to be differentially specified (Sherwood, D. R. and McClay, D. R. (1997) Development 124, 3363-3374). The LIN-12/Notch signaling pathway has been shown to mediate the segregation of numerous cell types in both invertebrate and vertebrate embryos. To directly examine whether LvNotch signaling has a role in the differential specification of SMCs and endoderm, we have overexpressed activated and dominant negative forms of LvNotch during early sea urchin development. We show that activation of LvNotch signaling increases SMC specification, while loss or reduction of LvNotch signaling eliminates or significantly decreases SMC specification. Furthermore, results from a mosaic analysis of LvNotch function as well as endogenous LvNotch expression strongly suggest that LvNotch signaling acts autonomously within the presumptive SMCs to mediate SMC specification. Finally, we demonstrate that the expansion of SMCs seen with activation of LvNotch signaling comes at the expense of presumptive endoderm cells, while loss of SMC specification results in the endoderm expanding into territory where SMCs usually arise. Taken together, these results offer compelling evidence that LvNotch signaling directly specifies the SMC fate, and that this signaling is critical for the differential specification of SMCs and endoderm in the sea urchin embryo. (+info)