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)
oko meduzy mutations affect neuronal patterning in the zebrafish retina and reveal cell-cell interactions of the retinal neuroepithelial sheet.
Mutations of the oko meduzy (ome) locus cause drastic neuronal patterning defect in the zebrafish retina. The precise, stratified appearance of the wild-type retina is absent in the mutants. Despite the lack of lamination, at least seven retinal cell types differentiate in oko meduzy. The ome phenotype is already expressed in the retinal neuroepithelium affecting morphology of the neuroepithelial cells. Our experiments indicate that previously unknown cell-cell interactions are involved in development of the retinal neuroepithelial sheet. In genetically mosaic animals, cell-cell interactions are sufficient to rescue the phenotype of oko meduzy retinal neuroepithelial cells. These cell-cell interactions may play a critical role in the patterning events that lead to differentiation of distinct neuronal laminae in the vertebrate retina. (+info)
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)
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)
Molecular markers of the zebrafish inner nuclear membrane (NEP55) and nuclear lamina (L68) were identified, partially characterized and used to demonstrate that disassembly of the zebrafish nuclear envelope requires sequential phosphorylation events by first PKC, then Cdc2 kinase. NEP55 and L68 are immunologically and functionally related to human LAP2beta and lamin B, respectively. Exposure of zebrafish nuclei to meiotic cytosol elicits rapid phosphorylation of NEP55 and L68, and disassembly of both proteins. L68 phosphorylation is completely inhibited by simultaneous inhibition of Cdc2 and PKC and only partially blocked by inhibition of either kinase. NEP55 phosphorylation is completely prevented by inhibition or immunodepletion of cytosolic Cdc2. Inhibition of cAMP-dependent kinase, MEK or CaM kinase II does not affect NEP55 or L68 phosphorylation. In vitro, nuclear envelope disassembly requires phosphorylation of NEP55 and L68 by both mammalian PKC and Cdc2. Inhibition of either kinase is sufficient to abolish NE disassembly. Furthermore, novel two-step phosphorylation assays in cytosol and in vitro indicate that PKC-mediated phosphorylation of L68 prior to Cdc2-mediated phosphorylation of L68 and NEP55 is essential to elicit nuclear envelope breakdown. Phosphorylation elicited by Cdc2 prior to PKC prevents nuclear envelope disassembly even though NEP55 is phosphorylated. The results indicate that sequential phosphorylation events elicited by PKC, followed by Cdc2, are required for zebrafish nuclear disassembly. They also argue that phosphorylation of inner nuclear membrane integral proteins is not sufficient to promote nuclear envelope breakdown, and suggest a multiple-level regulation of disassembly of nuclear envelope components during meiosis and at mitosis. (+info)
Comparative synteny cloning of zebrafish you-too: mutations in the Hedgehog target gli2 affect ventral forebrain patterning.
Zebrafish you-too (yot) mutations interfere with Hedgehog (Hh) signaling during embryogenesis. Using a comparative synteny approach, we isolated yot as a zinc finger transcription factor homologous to the Hh target gli2. Two alleles of yot contain nonsense mutations resulting in carboxy-terminally truncated proteins. In addition to causing defects in midline development, muscle differentiation, and retinal axon guidance, yot mutations disrupt anterior pituitary and ventral forebrain differentiation. yot mutations also cause ectopic lens formation in the ventral diencephalon. These findings reveal that truncated zebrafish Gli2 proteins interfere with Hh signaling necessary for differentiation and axon guidance in the ventral forebrain. (+info)
Retinal neurogenesis: the formation of the initial central patch of postmitotic cells.
We have investigated the relationship between the birthdate and the onset of differentiation of neurons in the embryonic zebrafish neural retina. Birthdates were established by a single injection of bromodeoxyuridine into embryos of closely spaced ages. Differentiation was revealed in the same embryos with a neuron-specific antibody, zn12. The first bromodeoxyuridine-negative (postmitotic) cells occupied the ganglion cell layer of ventronasal retina, where they formed a small cluster of 10 cells or less that included the first zn12-positive cells (neurons). New cells were recruited to both populations (bromodeoxyuridine-negative and zn12-positive) along the same front, similar to the unfolding of a fan, to produce a circular central patch of hundreds of cells in the ganglion cell layer about 9 h later. Thus the formation of this central patch, previously considered as the start of retinal neurogenesis, was actually a secondary event, with a developmental history of its own. The first neurons outside the ganglion cell layer also appeared in ventronasal retina, indicating that the ventronasal region was the site of initiation of all retinal neurogenesis. Within a column (a small cluster of neuroepithelial cells), postmitotic cells appeared first in the ganglion cell layer, then the inner nuclear layer, and then the outer nuclear layer, so cell birthday and cell fate were correlated within a column. The terminal mitoses occurred in three bursts separated by two 10-h intervals during which proliferation continued without terminal mitoses. (+info)
beta-thymosin is required for axonal tract formation in developing zebrafish brain.
beta-Thymosins are polypeptides that bind monomeric actin and thereby function as actin buffers in many cells. We show that during zebrafish development, &bgr;-thymosin expression is tightly correlated with neuronal growth and differentiation. It is transiently expressed in a subset of axon-extending neurons, essentially primary neurons that extend long axons, glia and muscle. Non-neuronal expression in the brain is restricted to a subset of glia surrounding newly forming axonal tracts. Skeletal muscle cells in somites, jaw and fin express beta-thymosin during differentiation, coinciding with the time of innervation. Injection of beta-thymosin antisense RNA into zebrafish embryos results in brain defects and impairment of the development of beta-thymosin-associated axon tracts. Furthermore, irregularities in somite formation can be seen in a subset of embryos. Compared to wild-type, antisense-injected embryos show slightly weaker and more diffuse engrailed staining at the midbrain-hindbrain boundary and a strong reduction of Isl-1 labeling in Rohon Beard and trigeminal neurons. The decreased expression is not based on a loss of neurons indicating that beta-thymosin may be involved in the maintenance of the expression of molecules necessary for neuronal differentiation. Taken together, our results strongly indicate that beta-thymosin is an important regulator of development. (+info)