(1/13538) 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)

(2/13538) A Drosophila doublesex-related gene, terra, is involved in somitogenesis in vertebrates.

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)

(3/13538) 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)

(4/13538) Regulation of body length and male tail ray pattern formation of Caenorhabditis elegans by a member of TGF-beta family.

We have identified a new member of the TGF-beta superfamily, CET-1, from Caenorhabditis elegans, which is expressed in the ventral nerve cord and other neurons. cet-1 null mutants have shortened bodies and male tail abnormal phenotype resembling sma mutants, suggesting cet-1, sma-2, sma-3 and sma-4 share a common pathway. Overexpression experiments demonstrated that cet-1 function requires wild-type sma genes. Interestingly, CET-1 appears to affect body length in a dose-dependent manner. Heterozygotes for cet-1 displayed body lengths ranging between null mutant and wild type, and overexpression of CET-1 in wild-type worms elongated body length close to lon mutants. In male sensory ray patterning, lack of cet-1 function results in ray fusions. Epistasis analysis revealed that mab-21 lies downstream and is negatively regulated by the cet-1/sma pathway in the male tail. Our results show that cet-1 controls diverse biological processes during C. elegans development probably through different target genes.  (+info)

(5/13538) Smad3-Smad4 and AP-1 complexes synergize in transcriptional activation of the c-Jun promoter by transforming growth factor beta.

Transcriptional regulation by transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a complex process which is likely to involve cross talk between different DNA responsive elements and transcription factors to achieve maximal promoter activation and specificity. Here, we describe a concurrent requirement for two discrete responsive elements in the regulation of the c-Jun promoter, one a binding site for a Smad3-Smad4 complex and the other an AP-1 binding site. The two elements are located 120 bp apart in the proximal c-Jun promoter, and each was able to independently bind its corresponding transcription factor complex. The effects of independently mutating each of these elements were nonadditive; disruption of either sequence resulted in complete or severe reductions in TGF-beta responsiveness. This simultaneous requirement for two distinct and independent DNA binding elements suggests that Smad and AP-1 complexes function synergistically to mediate TGF-beta-induced transcriptional activation of the c-Jun promoter.  (+info)

(6/13538) p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase can be involved in transforming growth factor beta superfamily signal transduction in Drosophila wing morphogenesis.

p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) has been extensively studied as a stress-responsive kinase, but its role in development remains unknown. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has two p38 genes, D-p38a and D-p38b. To elucidate the developmental function of the Drosophila p38's, we used various genetic and pharmacological manipulations to interfere with their functions: expression of a dominant-negative form of D-p38b, expression of antisense D-p38b RNA, reduction of the D-p38 gene dosage, and treatment with the p38 inhibitor SB203580. Expression of a dominant-negative D-p38b in the wing imaginal disc caused a decapentaplegic (dpp)-like phenotype and enhanced the phenotype of a dpp mutant. Dpp is a secretory ligand belonging to the transforming growth factor beta superfamily which triggers various morphogenetic processes through interaction with the receptor Thick veins (Tkv). Inhibition of D-p38b function also caused the suppression of the wing phenotype induced by constitutively active Tkv (TkvCA). Mosaic analysis revealed that D-p38b regulates the Tkv-dependent transcription of the optomotor-blind (omb) gene in non-Dpp-producing cells, indicating that the site of D-p38b action is downstream of Tkv. Furthermore, forced expression of TkvCA induced an increase in the phosphorylated active form(s) of D-p38(s). These results demonstrate that p38, in addition to its role as a transducer of emergency stress signaling, may function to modulate Dpp signaling.  (+info)

(7/13538) Isolation of zebrafish gdf7 and comparative genetic mapping of genes belonging to the growth/differentiation factor 5, 6, 7 subgroup of the TGF-beta superfamily.

The Growth/differentiation factor (Gdf) 5, 6, 7 genes form a closely related subgroup belonging to the TGF-beta superfamily. In zebrafish, there are three genes that belong to the Gdf5, 6, 7 subgroup that have been named radar, dynamo, and contact. The genes radar and dynamo both encode proteins most similar to mouse GDF6. The orthologous identity of these genes on the basis of amino acid similarities has not been clear. We have identified gdf7, a fourth zebrafish gene belonging to the Gdf5, 6, 7 subgroup. To assign correct orthologies and to investigate the evolutionary relationships of the human, mouse, and zebrafish Gdf5, 6, 7 subgroup, we have compared genetic map positions of the zebrafish and mammalian genes. We have mapped zebrafish gdf7 to linkage group (LG) 17, contact to LG9, GDF6 to human chromosome (Hsa) 8 and GDF7 to Hsa2p. The radar and dynamo genes have been localized previously to LG16 and LG19, respectively. A comparison of syntenies shared among human, mouse, and zebrafish genomes indicates that gdf7 is the ortholog of mammalian GDF7/Gdf7. LG16 shares syntenic relationships with mouse chromosome (Mmu) 4, including Gdf6. Portions of LG16 and LG19 appear to be duplicate chromosomes, thus suggesting that radar and dynamo are both orthologs of Gdf6. Finally, the mapping data is consistent with contact being the zebrafish ortholog of mammalian GDF5/Gdf5.  (+info)

(8/13538) Transformation of intestinal epithelial cells by chronic TGF-beta1 treatment results in downregulation of the type II TGF-beta receptor and induction of cyclooxygenase-2.

The precise role of TGF-beta in colorectal carcinogenesis is not clear. The purpose of this study was to determine the phenotypic alterations caused by chronic exposure to TGF-beta in non-transformed intestinal epithelial (RIE-1) cells. Growth of RIE-1 cells was inhibited by >75% following TGF-beta1 treatment for 7 days, after which the cells resumed a normal growth despite the presence of TGF-beta1. These 'TGF-beta-resistant' cells (RIE-Tr) were continuously exposed to TGF-beta for >50 days. Unlike the parental RIE cells, RIE-Tr cells lost contact inhibition, formed foci in culture, grew in soft agarose. RIE-Tr cells demonstrated TGF-beta-dependent invasive potential in an in vitro assay and were resistant to Matrigel and Na-butyrate-induced apoptosis. The RIE-Tr cells were also tumorigenic in nude mice. The transformed phenotype of RIE-Tr cells was associated with a 95% decrease in the level of the type II TGF-beta receptor (TbetaRII) protein, a 40-fold increase in cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein, and 5.9-fold increase in the production of prostacyclin. Most RIE-Tr subclones that expressed low levels of TbetaRII and high levels of COX-2 were tumorigenic. Those subclones that express abundant TbetaRII and low levels of COX-2 were not tumorigenic in nude mice. A selective COX-2 inhibitor inhibited RIE-Tr cell growth in culture and tumor growth in nude mice. The reduced expression of TbetaRII, increased expression of COX-2, and the ability to form colonies in Matrigel were all reversible upon withdrawal of exogenous TGF-beta1 for the RIE-Tr cells.  (+info)