The Drosophila kismet gene is related to chromatin-remodeling factors and is required for both segmentation and segment identity. (1/23571)

The Drosophila kismet gene was identified in a screen for dominant suppressors of Polycomb, a repressor of homeotic genes. Here we show that kismet mutations suppress the Polycomb mutant phenotype by blocking the ectopic transcription of homeotic genes. Loss of zygotic kismet function causes homeotic transformations similar to those associated with loss-of-function mutations in the homeotic genes Sex combs reduced and Abdominal-B. kismet is also required for proper larval body segmentation. Loss of maternal kismet function causes segmentation defects similar to those caused by mutations in the pair-rule gene even-skipped. The kismet gene encodes several large nuclear proteins that are ubiquitously expressed along the anterior-posterior axis. The Kismet proteins contain a domain conserved in the trithorax group protein Brahma and related chromatin-remodeling factors, providing further evidence that alterations in chromatin structure are required to maintain the spatially restricted patterns of homeotic gene transcription.  (+info)

FGF8 induces formation of an ectopic isthmic organizer and isthmocerebellar development via a repressive effect on Otx2 expression. (2/23571)

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 Drosophila doublesex-related gene, terra, is involved in somitogenesis in vertebrates. (3/23571)

The Drosophila doublesex (dsx) gene encodes a transcription factor that mediates sex determination. We describe the characterization of a novel zebrafish zinc-finger gene, terra, which contains a DNA binding domain similar to that of the Drosophila dsx gene. However, unlike dsx, terra is transiently expressed in the presomitic mesoderm and newly formed somites. Expression of terra in presomitic mesoderm is restricted to cells that lack expression of MyoD. In vivo, terra expression is reduced by hedgehog but enhanced by BMP signals. Overexpression of terra induces rapid apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that a tight regulation of terra expression is required during embryogenesis. Terra has both human and mouse homologs and is specifically expressed in mouse somites. Taken together, our findings suggest that terra is a highly conserved protein that plays specific roles in early somitogenesis of vertebrates.  (+info)

Membrane-tethered Drosophila Armadillo cannot transduce Wingless signal on its own. (4/23571)

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)

Sonic hedgehog signaling by the patched-smoothened receptor complex. (5/23571)

BACKGROUND: The Hedgehog (Hh) family of secreted proteins is involved in a number of developmental processes as well as in cancer. Genetic and biochemical data suggest that the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) receptor is composed of at least two proteins: the tumor suppressor protein Patched (Ptc) and the seven-transmembrane protein Smoothened (Smo). RESULTS: Using a biochemical assay for activation of the transcription factor Gli, a downstream component of the Hh pathway, we show here that Smo functions as the signaling component of the Shh receptor, and that this activity can be blocked by Ptc. The inhibition of Smo by Ptc can be relieved by the addition of Shh. Furthermore, oncogenic forms of Smo are insensitive to Ptc repression in this assay. Mapping of the Smo domains required for binding to Ptc and for signaling revealed that the Smo-Ptc interaction involves mainly the amino terminus of Smo, and that the third intracellular loop and the seventh transmembrane domain are required for signaling. CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that Smo is the signaling component of a multicomponent Hh receptor complex and that Ptc is a ligand-regulated inhibitor of Smo. Different domains of Smo are involved in Ptc binding and activation of a Gli reporter construct. The latter requires the third intracellular loop and the seventh transmembrane domain of Smo, regions often involved in coupling to G proteins. No changes in the levels of cyclic AMP or calcium associated with such pathways could be detected following receptor activation, however.  (+info)

Identification of sonic hedgehog as a candidate gene responsible for the polydactylous mouse mutant Sasquatch. (6/23571)

The mouse mutants of the hemimelia-luxate group (lx, lu, lst, Dh, Xt, and the more recently identified Hx, Xpl and Rim4; [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]) have in common preaxial polydactyly and longbone abnormalities. Associated with the duplication of digits are changes in the regulation of development of the anterior limb bud resulting in ectopic expression of signalling components such as Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and fibroblast growth factor-4 (Fgf4), but little is known about the molecular causes of this misregulation. We generated, by a transgene insertion event, a new member of this group of mutants, Sasquatch (Ssq), which disrupted aspects of both anteroposterior (AP) and dorsoventral (DV) patterning. The mutant displayed preaxial polydactyly in the hindlimbs of heterozygous embryos, and in both hindlimbs and forelimbs of homozygotes. The Shh, Fgf4, Fgf8, Hoxd12 and Hoxd13 genes were all ectopically expressed in the anterior region of affected limb buds. The insertion site was found to lie close to the Shh locus. Furthermore, expression from the transgene reporter has come under the control of a regulatory element that directs a pattern mirroring the endogenous expression pattern of Shh in limbs. In abnormal limbs, both Shh and the reporter were ectopically induced in the anterior region, whereas in normal limbs the reporter and Shh were restricted to the zone of polarising activity (ZPA). These data strongly suggest that Ssq is caused by direct interference with the cis regulation of the Shh gene.  (+info)

Alzheimer's disease: clues from flies and worms. (7/23571)

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)

B-MYB transactivates its own promoter through SP1-binding sites. (8/23571)

B-MYB is an ubiquitous protein required for mammalian cell growth. In this report we show that B-MYB transactivates its own promoter through a 120 bp segment proximal to the transcription start site. The B-MYB-responsive element does not contain myb-binding sites and gel-shift analysis shows that SP1, but not B-MYB, protein contained in SAOS2 cell extracts binds to the 120 bp B-myb promoter fragment. B-MYB-dependent transactivation is cooperatively increased in the presence of SP1, but not SP3 overexpression. When the SP1 elements of the B-myb promoter are transferred in front of a heterologous promoter, an increased response to B-MYB results. In contrast, c-MYB, the prototype member of the Myb family, is not able to activate the luciferase construct containing the SP1 elements. With the use of an SP1-GAL4 fusion protein, we have determined that the cooperative activation occurs through the domain A of SP1. These observations suggest that B-MYB functions as a coactivator of SP1, and that diverse combinations of myb and SP1 sites may dictate the responsiveness of myb-target genes to the various members of the myb family.  (+info)