Revisiting the role of H+ in chemotactic signaling of sperm.
Chemotaxis of sperm is an important step toward fertilization. During chemotaxis, sperm change their swimming behavior in a gradient of the chemoattractant that is released by the eggs, and finally sperm accumulate near the eggs. A well established model to study chemotaxis is the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata. Resact, the chemoattractant of Arbacia, is a peptide that binds to a receptor guanylyl cyclase. The signaling pathway underlying chemotaxis is still poorly understood. Stimulation of sperm with resact induces a variety of cellular events, including a rise in intracellular pH (pHi) and an influx of Ca2+; the Ca2+ entry is essential for the chemotactic behavior. Previous studies proposed that the influx of Ca2+ is initiated by the rise in pHi. According to this proposal, a cGMP-induced hyperpolarization activates a voltage-dependent Na+/H+ exchanger that expels H+ from the cell. Because some aspects of the proposed signaling pathway are inconsistent with recent results (Kaupp, U.B., J. Solzin, J.E. Brown, A. Helbig, V. Hagen, M. Beyermann, E. Hildebrand, and I. Weyand. 2003. Nat. Cell Biol. 5:109-117), we reexamined the role of protons in chemotaxis of sperm using kinetic measurements of the changes in pHi and intracellular Ca2+ concentration. We show that for physiological concentrations of resact (<25 pM), the influx of Ca2+ precedes the rise in pHi. Moreover, buffering of pHi completely abolishes the resact-induced pHi signal, but leaves the Ca2+ signal and the chemotactic motor response unaffected. We conclude that an elevation of pHi is required neither to open Ca(2+)-permeable channels nor to control the chemotactic behavior. Intracellular release of cGMP from a caged compound does not cause an increase in pHi, indicating that the rise in pHi is induced by cellular events unrelated to cGMP itself, but probably triggered by the consumption and subsequent replenishment of GTP. These results show that the resact-induced rise in pHi is not an obligatory step in sperm chemotactic signaling. A rise in pHi is also not required for peptide-induced Ca2+ entry into sperm of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Speract, a peptide of S. purpuratus may act as a chemoattractant as well or may serve functions other than chemotaxis. (+info)
Sphedgehog is expressed by pigment cell precursors during early gastrulation in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.
We have sequenced the Sphedgehog (Sphh) gene from the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Sphh transcripts are detected first at the mesenchyme blastula stage, and they accumulate throughout early embryogenesis. The Sphh protein is produced by precursor pigment cells during early and midgastrulation. NiCl2 inhibits pigment cell differentiation in sea urchins. Here, we show that, in S. purpuratus, nickel affects a process(es) between 17 and 24 hr of development, corresponding to the time period when Sphh mRNA is first detected. However, nickel treatment does not alter the early expression of Sphh. (+info)
The oxidative burst at fertilization is dependent upon activation of the dual oxidase Udx1.
The sea urchin egg is a quiescent cell...until fertilization, when the egg is activated. The classic respiratory burst at fertilization is the result of prodigious hydrogen peroxide production, but the mechanism for this synthesis is not known. Here we quantitate the kinetics of hydrogen peroxide synthesis at a single-cell level using an imaging photon detector, showing that 60 nM hydrogen peroxide accumulates within the perivitelline space of each zygote. We find that the NADPH oxidation activity is enriched at the cell surface and is sensitive to a pharmacological inhibitor of NADPH oxidase enzymes. Finally, we show that a sea urchin dual oxidase homolog, Udx1, is responsible for generating the hydrogen peroxide necessary for the physical block to polyspermy. Phylogenetic analysis of the enzymatic modules in Udx1 suggests a potentially conserved role for the dual oxidase family in hydrogen peroxide production and regulation during fertilization. (+info)
Activation of multidrug efflux transporter activity at fertilization in sea urchin embryos (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus).
This study presents functional and molecular evidence for acquisition of multidrug transporter-mediated efflux activity as a consequence of fertilization in the sea urchin. Sea urchin eggs and embryos express low levels of efflux transporter genes with homology to the multidrug resistance associated protein (mrp) and permeability glycoprotein (p-gp) families of ABC transporters. The corresponding efflux activity is low in unfertilized eggs but is dramatically upregulated within 25 min of fertilization; the expression of this activity does not involve de novo gene expression and is insensitive to inhibitors of transcription and translation indicating activation of pre-existing transporter protein. Our study, using specific inhibitors of efflux transporters, indicates that the major activity is from one or more mrp-like transporters. The expression of activity at fertilization requires microfilaments, suggesting that the transporters are in vesicles and moved to the surface after fertilization. Pharmacological inhibition of mrp-mediated efflux activity with MK571 sensitizes embryos to the toxic compound vinblastine, confirming that one role for the efflux transport activity is embryo protection from xenobiotics. In addition, inhibition of mrp activity with MK571 alone retards mitosis indicating that mrp-like activity may also be required for early cell divisions. (+info)
Sea urchin vault structure, composition, and differential localization during development.
BACKGROUND: Vaults are intriguing ribonucleoprotein assemblies with an unknown function that are conserved among higher eukaryotes. The Pacific coast sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, is an invertebrate model organism that is evolutionarily closer to humans than Drosophila and C. elegans, neither of which possesses vaults. Here we compare the structures of sea urchin and mammalian vaults and analyze the subcellular distribution of vaults during sea urchin embryogenesis. RESULTS: The sequence of the sea urchin major vault protein (MVP) was assembled from expressed sequence tags and genome traces, and the predicted protein was found to have 64% identity and 81% similarity to rat MVP. Sea urchin MVP includes seven approximately 50 residue repeats in the N-terminal half of the protein and a predicted coiled coil domain in the C-terminus, as does rat MVP. A cryoelectron microscopy (cryoEM) reconstruction of isolated sea urchin vaults reveals the assembly to have a barrel-shaped external structure that is nearly identical to the rat vault structure. Analysis of the molecular composition of the sea urchin vault indicates that it contains components that may be homologs of the mammalian vault RNA component (vRNA) and protein components (VPARP and TEP1). The sea urchin vault appears to have additional protein components in the molecular weight range of 14-55 kDa that might correspond to molecular contents. Confocal experiments indicate a dramatic relocalization of MVP from the cytoplasm to the nucleus during sea urchin embryogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: These results are suggestive of a role for the vault in delivering macromolecules to the nucleus during development. (+info)
A dual-fluorescence reporter system for high-throughput clone characterization and selection by cell sorting.
Molecular biology critically depends upon the isolation of desired DNA sequences. Flow cytometry, with its capacity to interrogate and sort more than 50,000 cells/s, shows great potential to expedite clone characterization and isolation. Intrinsic heterogeneity of protein expression levels in cells limits the utility of single fluorescent reporters for cell-sorting. Here, we report a novel dual-fluorescence strategy that overcomes the inherent limitations of single reporter systems by controlling for expression variability. We demonstrate a dual-reporter system using the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene fused to the Discosoma red fluorescent protein (DsRed) gene. The system reports the successful insertion of foreign DNA with the loss of DsRed fluorescence and the maintenance of GFP fluorescence. Single cells containing inserts are readily recognized by their altered ratios of green to red fluorescence and separated using a high-speed cell-sorter for further processing. This novel reporter system and vector were successfully validated by shotgun library construction, cloned sequence isolation, PCR amplification and DNA sequencing of cloned inserts from bacteria after cell-sorting. This simple, robust system can also be adapted for diverse biosensor assays and is amenable to miniaturization. We demonstrated that dual-fluorescence reporting coupled with high-speed cell-sorting provides a more efficient alternative to traditional methods of clone isolation. (+info)
Gene regulatory networks for development.
The genomic program for development operates primarily by the regulated expression of genes encoding transcription factors and components of cell signaling pathways. This program is executed by cis-regulatory DNAs (e.g., enhancers and silencers) that control gene expression. The regulatory inputs and functional outputs of developmental control genes constitute network-like architectures. In this PNAS Special Feature are assembled papers on developmental gene regulatory networks governing the formation of various tissues and organs in nematodes, flies, sea urchins, frogs, and mammals. Here, we survey salient points of these networks, by using as reference those governing specification of the endomesoderm in sea urchin embryos and dorsal-ventral patterning in the Drosophila embryo. (+info)
Strongylocentrotus purpuratus transcription factor GATA-E binds to and represses transcription at an Otx-Goosecoid cis-regulatory element within the aboral ectoderm-specific spec2a enhancer.
During Strongylocentrotus purpuratus embryogenesis, aboral ectoderm-specific expression of spec2a relies on an upstream enhancer that confers its spatial specificity largely through repression. The purpose of this study was to determine how spec2a expression is repressed in endoderm and oral ectoderm territories. A 78-base pair DNA sequence within the enhancer contains five tightly spaced cis-regulatory elements including proximal (TAATCT) and distal (TAATCC) elements that bind to both SpOtx, a broadly distributed transcriptional activator, and SpGoosecoid (SpGsc), an oral ectoderm-restricted transcriptional repressor. We show here that these two seemingly redundant Otx/Gsc elements have distinct functions. The proximal element bound to SpGATA-E, an endomesoderm-specific transcription factor. Treatment with SpGATA-E and SpGsc morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (MASOs) resulted in enhanced transcriptional activity from the proximal element, suggesting that both factors functioned as repressors at this site. SpGATA-E MASO-treated embryos failed to express ectoderm markers, indicating a role for SpGATA-E in ectoderm differentiation. The spec2a proximal element was distinct from the corresponding element in the related spec1 enhancer, and swaps between spec1 and spec2a cis-regulatory elements indicated, that for optimal repression, the proximal element had to interact with a nearby CCAAT-binding factor element. Our results show that the recently evolved proximal element contributes to the repression of spec2a in endomesoderm and oral ectoderm territories. (+info)