The extracellular matrix (ECM) is synthesized and secreted by embryonic cells beginning at the earliest stages of development. Our understanding of ECM composition, structure and function has grown considerably in the last several decades and this knowledge has revealed that the extracellular microenvironment is critically important for cell growth, survival, differentiation and morphogenesis. ECM and the cellular receptors that interact with it mediate both physical linkages with the cytoskeleton and the bidirectional flow of information between the extracellular and intracellular compartments. This review considers the range of cell and tissue functions attributed to ECM molecules and summarizes recent findings specific to key developmental processes. The importance of ECM as a dynamic repository for growth factors is highlighted along with more recent studies implicating the 3-dimensional organization and physical properties of the ECM as it relates to cell signaling and the regulation of morphogenetic cell behaviors. Embryonic cell and tissue generated forces and mechanical signals arising from ECM adhesion represent emerging areas of interest in this field.
After induction and specification in the ectoderm, at the border of the neural plate, the neural crest (NC) population leaves its original territory through a delamination process. Soon afterwards, the NC cells migrate throughout the embryo and colonize a myriad of tissues and organs where they settle and differentiate. The delamination involves a partial or complete epithelium-to-mesenchyme transition (EMT) regulated by a complex network of transcription factors including several proto-oncogenes. Studying the relationship between these genes at the time of emigration, and their individual or collective impact on cell behavior, provides valuable information about their role in EMT in other contexts such as cancer metastasis. During migration, NC cells are exposed to large number of positive and negative regulators that control where they go by generating permissive and restricted areas and by modulating their motility and directionality. In addition, as most NC cells migrate collectively, cell–cell interactions play a crucial role in polarizing the cells and interpreting external cues. Cell cooperation eventually generates an overall polarity to the population, leading to directional collective cell migration. This review will summarize our current knowledge on delamination, EMT and migration of NC cells using key examples from chicken, , zebrafish and mouse embryos. Given the similarities between neural crest migration and cancer invasion, these cells may represent a useful model for understanding the mechanisms of metastasis. ► Neural crest migratory pathways. ► Mechanism of Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). ► Cellular and molecular interactions during neural crest migration. ► Neural crest as a model for cancer.
Tyrosinase is the rate-limiting enzyme for the production of melanin pigmentation. In the mouse and other animals, homozygous null mutations in the gene ( ) result in the absence of pigmentation, albinism. Here we used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to generate mono- and bi-allelic null mutations in the locus by zygote injection of two single-guide and RNAs. Injection into C57BL/6N wild-type embryos resulted in one completely albino founder carrying two different mutations. In addition, three pigmentation mosaics and fully pigmented littermates were obtained that transmitted new mutant alleles to progeny in test crosses with albinos. Injection into heterozygous (B6CBAF1/J×FVB/NJ) zygotes resulted in the generation of numerous albinos and also mice with a graded range of albino mosaicism. Deep sequencing revealed that the majority of the albinos and the mosaics had more than two new mutant alleles. These visual phenotypes and molecular genotypes highlight the somatic mosaicism and allele complexity in founders that occurs for targeted genes during CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis by zygote injection in mice.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are a new class of non-protein-coding, endogenous, small RNAs. They are important regulatory molecules in animals and plants. miRNA regulates gene expression by translational repression, mRNA cleavage, and mRNA decay initiated by miRNA-guided rapid deadenylation. Recent studies show that some miRNAs regulate cell proliferation and apoptosis processes that are important in cancer formation. By using multiple molecular techniques, which include Northern blot analysis, real-time PCR, miRNA microarray, up- or down-expression of specific miRNAs, it was found that several miRNAs were directly involved in human cancers, including lung, breast, brain, liver, colon cancer, and leukemia. In addition, some miRNAs may function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors. More than 50% of miRNA genes are located in cancer-associated genomic regions or in fragile sites, suggesting that miRNAs may play a more important role in the pathogenesis of a limited range of human cancers than previously thought. Overexpressed miRNAs in cancers, such as , may function as oncogenes and promote cancer development by negatively regulating tumor suppressor genes and/or genes that control cell differentiation or apoptosis. Underexpressed miRNAs in cancers, such as , function as tumor suppressor genes and may inhibit cancers by regulating oncogenes and/or genes that control cell differentiation or apoptosis. miRNA expression profiles may become useful biomarkers for cancer diagnostics. In addition, miRNA therapy could be a powerful tool for cancer prevention and therapeutics.
Proper muscle function constitutes a precondition for good heath and an active lifestyle during an individual's lifespan and any deviations from normal skeletal muscle development and its functions may lead to numerous health conditions including e.g. myopathies and increased mortality. It is thus not surprising that there is an increasing need for understanding skeletal muscle developmental processes and the associated molecular pathways, especially as such information could find further uses in therapy. The understanding of complex skeletal muscle developmental networks was broadened with the discovery of microRNA (miRNA) molecules. MicroRNAs are evolutionary conserved small non-coding RNAs capable of negatively regulating gene expression on a post-transcriptional level by means of miRNA–mRNA interaction. Several miRNAs expressed exclusively in muscle have been labeled myomiRs. MyomiRs represent an integral part of skeletal muscle development, i.e. playing a significant role during skeletal muscle proliferation, differentiation and regeneration. The purpose of this review is to provide a summary of current knowledge regarding the involvement of myomiRs in the individual phases of myogenesis and other aspects of skeletal muscle biology, along with an up-to-date list of myomiR target genes and their functions in skeletal muscle and miRNA-related therapeutic approaches and future prospects.
The ability to model human brain development represents an important step in our study of developmental processes and neurological disorders. Protocols that utilize human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells can now generate organoids which faithfully recapitulate, on a cell-biological and gene expression level, the early period of human embryonic and fetal brain development. In combination with novel gene editing tools, such as CRISPR, these methods represent an unprecedented model system in the field of mammalian neural development. In this review, we focus on the similarities of current organoid methods to brain development, discuss their limitations and potential improvements, and explore the future venues of brain organoid research.
The RNA polymerase II core promoter is a structurally and functionally diverse transcriptional regulatory element. There are two main strategies for transcription initiation – focused and dispersed initiation. In focused initiation, transcription starts from a single nucleotide or within a cluster of several nucleotides, whereas in dispersed initiation, there are several weak transcription start sites over a broad region of about 50 to 100 nucleotides. Focused initiation is the predominant means of transcription in simpler organisms, whereas dispersed initiation is observed in approximately two-thirds of vertebrate genes. Regulated genes tend to have focused promoters, and constitutive genes typically have dispersed promoters. Hence, in vertebrates, focused promoters are used in a small but biologically important fraction of genes. The properties of focused core promoters are dependent upon the presence or absence of sequence motifs such as the TATA box and DPE. For example, Caudal, a key regulator of the homeotic gene network, preferentially activates transcription from DPE- versus TATA-dependent promoters. The basal transcription factors, which act in conjunction with the core promoter, are another important component in the regulation of gene expression. For instance, upon differentiation of myoblasts to myotubes, the cells undergo a switch from a TFIID-based transcription system to a TRF3–TAF3-based system. These findings suggest that the core promoter and basal transcription factors are important yet mostly unexplored components in the regulation of gene expression.
Several decades have passed since the discovery of genes in the fruit fly . Their unique ability to regulate morphologies along the anteroposterior (AP) axis ( ) earned them well-deserved attention as important regulators of embryonic development. Phenotypes due to loss- and gain-of-function mutations in mouse genes have revealed that the spatio-temporally controlled expression of these genes is critical for the correct morphogenesis of embryonic axial structures. Here, we review recent novel insight into the modalities of Hox protein function in imparting specific identity to anatomical regions of the vertebral column, and in controlling the emergence of these tissues concomitantly with providing them with axial identity. The control of these functions must have been intimately linked to the shaping of the body plan during evolution.
Biologists have long recognized that dramatic bending of a cell sheet may be driven by even modest shrinking of the apical sides of cells. Cell shape changes and tissue movements like these are at the core of many of the morphogenetic movements that shape animal form during development, driving processes such as gastrulation, tube formation, and neurulation. The mechanisms of such cell shape changes must integrate developmental patterning information in order to spatially and temporally control force production—issues that touch on fundamental aspects of both cell and developmental biology and on birth defects research. How does developmental patterning regulate force-producing mechanisms, and what roles do such mechanisms play in development? Work on apical constriction from multiple systems including , , sea urchin, , chick, and mouse has begun to illuminate these issues. Here, we review this effort to explore the diversity of mechanisms of apical constriction, the diversity of roles that apical constriction plays in development, and the common themes that emerge from comparing systems.
Early mammalian embryogenesis is controlled by mechanisms governing the balance between pluripotency and differentiation. The expression of early lineage-specific genes can vary significantly between species, with implications for developmental control and stem cell derivation. However, the mechanisms involved in patterning the human embryo are still unclear. We analyzed the appearance and localization of lineage-specific transcription factors in staged preimplantation human embryos from the zygote until the blastocyst. We observed that the pluripotency-associated transcription factor OCT4 was initially expressed in 8-cell embryos at 3 days post-fertilization (dpf), and restricted to the inner cell mass (ICM) in 128–256 cell blastocysts (6 dpf), approximately 2 days later than the mouse. The trophectoderm (TE)-associated transcription factor CDX2 was upregulated in 5 dpf blastocysts and initially coincident with OCT4, indicating a lag in CDX2 initiation in the TE lineage, relative to the mouse. Once established, the TE expressed intracellular and cell-surface proteins cytokeratin-7 (CK7) and fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 (FGFR1), which are thought to be specific to post-implantation human trophoblast progenitor cells. The primitive endoderm (PE)-associated transcription factor SOX17 was initially heterogeneously expressed in the ICM where it co-localized with a sub-set of OCT4 expressing cells at 4–5 dpf. SOX17 was progressively restricted to the PE adjacent to the blastocoel cavity together with the transcription factor GATA6 by 6 dpf. We observed low levels of Laminin expression in the human PE, though this basement membrane component is thought to play an important role in mouse PE cell sorting, suggesting divergence in differentiation mechanisms between species. Additionally, while stem cell lines representing the three distinct cell types that comprise a mouse blastocyst have been established, the identity of cell types that emerge during early human embryonic stem cell derivation is unclear. We observed that derivation from plating intact human blastocysts resulted predominantly in the outgrowth of TE-like cells, which impairs human embryonic stem cell derivation. Altogether, our findings provide important insight into developmental patterning of preimplantation human embryos with potential consequences for stem cell derivation. ► Human trophectoderm forms prior to CDX2 expression and persistently expresses OCT4. ► Heterogenous expression of SOX17 is progressively restricted to the human primitive endoderm together with GATA6. ► Laminin expression is not detected in the human primitive endoderm, unlike mice, suggesting alternative modes of differentiation. ► Human blastocyst outgrowths are dominated by trophoblast cells, negatively influencing embryonic stem cell derivation.
The neural crest is a multipotent and migratory cell type that forms transiently in the developing vertebrate embryo. These cells emerge from the central nervous system, migrate extensively and give rise to diverse cell lineages including melanocytes, craniofacial cartilage and bone, peripheral and enteric neurons and glia, and smooth muscle. A vertebrate innovation, the gene regulatory network underlying neural crest formation appears to be highly conserved, even to the base of vertebrates. Here, we present an overview of important concepts in the neural crest field dating from its discovery 150 years ago to open questions that will motivate future research.
The CSF-1 receptor (CSF-1R) regulates CNS microglial development. However, the localization and developmental roles of this receptor and its ligands, IL-34 and CSF-1, in the brain are poorly understood. Here we show that compared to wild type mice, CSF-1R-deficient ( 1 ) mice have smaller brains of greater mass. They further exhibit an expansion of lateral ventricle size, an atrophy of the olfactory bulb and a failure of midline crossing of callosal axons. In brain, IL-34 exhibited a broader regional expression than CSF-1, mostly without overlap. Expression of IL-34, CSF-1 and the CSF-1R were maximal during early postnatal development. However, in contrast to the expression of its ligands, CSF-1R expression was very low in adult brain. Postnatal neocortical expression showed that CSF-1 was expressed in layer VI, whereas IL-34 was expressed in the meninges and layers II–V. The broader expression of IL-34 is consistent with its previously implicated role in microglial development. The differential expression of CSF-1R ligands, with respect to CSF-1R expression, could reflect their CSF-1R-independent signaling. 1 / mice displayed increased proliferation and apoptosis of neocortical progenitors and reduced differentiation of specific excitatory neuronal subtypes. Indeed, addition of CSF-1 or IL-34 to microglia-free, CSF-1R-expressing dorsal forebrain clonal cultures, suppressed progenitor self-renewal and enhanced neuronal differentiation. Consistent with a neural developmental role for the CSF-1R, ablation of the 1 gene in Nestin-positive neural progenitors led to a smaller brain size, an expanded neural progenitor pool and elevated cellular apoptosis in cortical forebrain. Thus our results also indicate novel roles for the CSF-1R in the regulation of corticogenesis. ► Detailed CNS expression pattern of CSF-1, IL-34 and the CSF-1R. ► Expression of the CSF-1R on neural progenitor cells (NPC). ► Altered proliferation, survival and differentiation of NPC in 1 −/− mice. ► Direct regulation of neurogenesis by CSF-1 or IL-34 ► Increased lethality & brain abnormalities in +; 1 mice.
In the vertebrate embryo, the neural crest forms transiently in the dorsal neural primordium to yield migratory cells that will invade nearly all tissues and later, will differentiate into bones and cartilages, neurons and glia, endocrine cells, vascular smooth muscle cells and melanocytes. Due to the amazingly diversified array of cell types it produces, the neural crest is an attractive model system in the stem cell field. We present here in vivo and in vitro studies of single cell fate, which led to the discovery and the characterization of stem cells in the neural crest of avian and mammalian embryos. Some of the key issues in neural crest cell diversification are discussed, such as the time of segregation of mesenchymal vs. neural/melanocytic lineages, and the origin and close relationships between the glial and melanocytic lineages. An overview is also provided of the diverse types of neural crest-like stem cells and progenitors, recently identified in a growing number of adult tissues in animals and humans. Current and future work, in which in vivo lineage studies and the use of injury models will complement the in vitro culture analysis, should help in unraveling the properties and function of neural crest-derived progenitors in development and disease. ► Upon isolation, many NC-derived cells (referred to as NCSCs) display stem cell features. ► Still debated is to what extent NCSCs exhibit self-renewing and multipotency in vivo. ► NCSC fates are regulated in a region- and stage-specific manner. ► NCSC-like progenitors persist in multiple adult tissues including skin and bone marrow. ► Adult NCSCs might be involved in tissue homeostasis and regeneration.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful tool for elucidating the roles of genes in a wide variety of organisms including mice. To obtain genetically modified embryos or mice by this method, mRNA and sgRNA are usually introduced into zygotes by microinjection or electroporation. However, most mutants generated with this method are genetically mosaic, composed of several types of cells carrying different mutations, which complicates phenotype analysis in founder embryos or mice. To simplify the analysis and to elucidate the roles of genes involved in developmental processes, a method for producing non-mosaic mutants is needed. Here, we established a method for generating non-mosaic mouse mutant embryos. We introduced Cas9 protein and sgRNA into fertilized (IVF) zygotes by electroporation, which enabled the genome editing to occur before the first replication of the mouse genome. As a result, all of the cells in the mutant carried the same set of mutations. This method solves the problem of mosaicism/allele complexity in founder mutant embryos or mice generated by the CRIPSR/Cas9 system.
Pericytes heterogeneity is based on their morphology, distribution, and markers. It is well known that pericytes from different organs may have distinct embryonic sources. Yamazaki et al. (2017) using several transgenic mouse model reveal by cell-lineage tracing that pericytes are even more heterogeneous than previously appreciated. This study shows that pericytes from within the same tissue may be heterogeneous in their origin. Remarkably, a subpopulation of embryonic dermal pericytes derives from the hematopoietic lineage, an unexpected source. Reconstructing the lineage of pericytes is central to understanding development, and also for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in which pericytes play important roles.
The enteric nervous system (ENS), the intrinsic innervation of the gastrointestinal tract, consists of numerous types of neurons, and glial cells, that are distributed in two intramuscular plexuses that extend along the entire length of the gut and control co-ordinated smooth muscle contractile activity and other gut functions. All enteric neurons and glia are derived from neural crest cells (NCC). Vagal (hindbrain) level NCC provide the majority of enteric precursors along the entire length of the gut, while a lesser contribution, that is restricted to the hindgut, arises from the sacral region of the neuraxis. After leaving the dorsal neural tube NCC undergo extensive migration, proliferation, survival and differentiation in order to form a functional ENS. This article reviews the molecular mechanisms underlying these key developmental processes and highlights the major groups of molecules that affect enteric NCC proliferation and survival (Ret/Gdnf and EdnrB/Et-3 pathways, Sox10 and Phox2b transcription factors), cell migration (Ret and EdnrB signalling, semaphorin 3A, cell adhesion molecules, Rho GTPases), and the development of enteric neuronal subtypes and morphologies (Mash1, Gdnf/neurturin, BMPs, Hand2, retinoic acid). Finally, looking to the future, we discuss the need to translate the wealth of data gleaned from animal studies to the clinical area and thus better understand, and develop treatments for, congenital human diseases affecting the ENS. ► The enteric nervous system is entirely derived from neural crest cells. ► We review the molecular mechanisms underlying enteric neural crest cell development. ► Key processes include cell migration, proliferation, survival, and differentiation.
The planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling system governs many aspects of polarized cell behavior. Here, we use an in vivo model of vertebrate mucociliary epithelial development to show that Dishevelled (Dvl) is essential for the apical positioning of basal bodies. We find that Dvl and Inturned mediate the activation of the Rho GTPase specifically at basal bodies, and that these three proteins together mediate the docking of basal bodies to the apical plasma membrane. Moreover, we find that this docking involves a Dvl-dependent association of basal bodies with membrane-bound vesicles and the vesicle-trafficking protein, Sec8. Once docked, basal bodies again require Dvl and Rho for the planar polarization that underlies directional beating of cilia. These results demonstrate previously undescribed functions for PCP signaling components and suggest that a common signaling apparatus governs both apical docking and planar polarization of basal bodies.
Climate change is multi-faceted, and includes changing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, and increasing frequency of extreme weather events. Here, we focus on the effects of rising atmospheric CO concentrations, rising temperature, and drought stress and their interaction on plant developmental processes in leaves, roots, and in reproductive structures. While in some cases these responses are conserved across species, such as decreased root elongation, perturbation of root growth angle and reduced seed yield in response to drought, or an increase in root biomass in shallow soil in response to elevated CO , most responses are variable within and between species and are dependent on developmental stage. These variable responses include species-specific thresholds that arrest development of reproductive structures, reduce root growth rate and the rate of leaf initiation and expansion in response to elevated temperature. Leaf developmental responses to elevated CO vary by cell type and by species. Variability also exists between C and C species in response to elevated CO , especially in terms of growth and seed yield stimulation. At the molecular level, significantly less is understood regarding conservation and variability in molecular mechanisms underlying these traits. Abscisic acid-mediated changes in cell wall expansion likely underlie reductions in growth rate in response to drought, and changes in known regulators of flowering time likely underlie altered reproductive transitions in response to elevated temperature and CO . Genes that underlie most other organ or tissue-level responses have largely only been identified in a single species in response to a single stress and their level of conservation is unknown. We conclude that there is a need for further research regarding the molecular mechanisms of plant developmental responses to climate change factors in general, and that this lack of data is particularly prevalent in the case of interactive effects of multiple climate change factors. As future growing conditions will likely expose plants to multiple climate change factors simultaneously, with a sum negative influence on global agriculture, further research in this area is critical.
Pancreatic development represents a fascinating process in which two morphologically distinct tissue types must derive from one simple epithelium. These two tissue types, exocrine (including acinar cells, centro-acinar cells, and ducts) and endocrine cells serve disparate functions, and have entirely different morphology. In addition, the endocrine tissue must become disconnected from the epithelial lining during its development. The pancreatic development field has exploded in recent years, and numerous published reviews have dealt specifically with only recent findings, or specifically with certain aspects of pancreatic development. Here I wish to present a more comprehensive review of all aspects of pancreatic development, though still there is not a room for discussion of stem cell differentiation to pancreas, nor for discussion of post-natal regeneration phenomena, two important fields closely related to pancreatic development.