Canonical ?-catenin-dependent Wnt signal transduction is important for several biological phenomena, such as cell fate determination, cell proliferation, stem cell maintenance and anterior-posterior axis formation. The hallmark of canonical Wnt signaling is the translocation of ?-catenin into the nucleus where it activates gene transcription. However, the mechanisms regulating ?-catenin nuclear localization are poorly understood. We show that Simplet/Fam53B (Smp) is required for Wnt signaling by positively regulating ?-catenin nuclear localization. In the zebrafish embryo, the loss of smp blocks the activity of two ?-catenin-dependent reporters and the expression of Wnt target genes, and prevents nuclear accumulation of ?-catenin. Conversely, overexpression of smp increases ?-catenin nuclear localization and transcriptional activity in vitro and in vivo. Expression of mutant Smp proteins lacking either the nuclear localization signal or the ?-catenin interaction domain reveal that the translocation of Smp into the nucleus is essential for ?-catenin nuclear localization and Wnt signaling in vivo. We also provide evidence that mammalian Smp is involved in regulating ?-catenin nuclear localization: the protein colocalizes with ?-catenin-dependent gene expression in mouse intestinal crypts; siRNA knockdown of Smp reduces ?-catenin nuclear localization and transcriptional activity; human SMP mediates ?-catenin transcriptional activity in a dose-dependent manner; and the human SMP protein interacts with human ?-catenin primarily in the nucleus. Thus, our findings identify the evolutionary conserved SMP protein as a regulator of ?-catenin-dependent Wnt signal transduction.
The design and synthesis of a polyphenylene dendrimer (PPD 3) with discrete binding sites for lipophilic guest molecules and characteristic surface patterns is presented. Its semi-rigidity in combination with a precise positioning of hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups at the periphery yields a refined architecture with lipophilic binding pockets that accommodate defined numbers of biologically relevant guest molecules such as fatty acids or the drug doxorubicin. The size, architecture, and surface textures allow to even penetrate brain endothelial cells that are a major component of the extremely tight blood-brain barrier. In addition, low to no toxicity is observed in in vivo studies using zebrafish embryos. The unique PPD scaffold allows the precise placement of functional groups in a given environment and offers a universal platform for designing drug transporters that closely mimic many features of proteins.
Zebrafish have an unlimited capacity to regenerate bone after fin amputation. In this process, mature osteoblasts dedifferentiate to osteogenic precursor cells and thus represent an important source of newly forming bone. By contrast, differentiated osteoblasts do not appear to contribute to repair of bone injuries in mammals; rather, osteoblasts form anew from mesenchymal stem cells. This raises the question whether osteoblast dedifferentiation is specific to appendage regeneration, a special feature of the lepidotrichia bone of the fish fin, or a process found more generally in fish bone. Here, we show that dedifferentiation of mature osteoblasts is not restricted to fin regeneration after amputation, but also occurs during repair of zebrafish fin fractures and skull injuries. In both models, mature osteoblasts surrounding the injury downregulate the expression of differentiation markers, upregulate markers of the pre-osteoblast state and become proliferative. Making use of photoconvertible Kaede protein as well as Cre-driven genetic fate mapping, we show that osteoblasts migrate to the site of injury to replace damaged tissue. Our findings suggest a fundamental role for osteoblast dedifferentiation in reparative bone formation in fish and indicate that adult fish osteoblasts display elevated cellular plasticity compared with mammalian bone-forming cells.
Zebrafish regenerate their fins via the formation of a population of progenitor cells, the blastema. Wnt/?-catenin signaling is essential for blastemal cell proliferation and patterning of the overlying epidermis. Yet, we find that ?-catenin signaling is neither active in the epidermis nor the majority of the proliferative blastemal cells. Rather, tissue-specific pathway interference indicates that Wnt signaling in the nonproliferative distal blastema is required for cell proliferation in the proximal blastema, and signaling in cells lining the osteoblasts directs osteoblast differentiation. Thus, Wnt signaling regulates epidermal patterning, blastemal cell proliferation, and osteoblast maturation indirectly via secondary signals. Gene expression profiling, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and functional rescue experiments suggest that Wnt/?-catenin signaling acts through Fgf and Bmp signaling to control epidermal patterning, whereas retinoic acid and Hedgehog signals mediate its effects on blastemal cell proliferation. We propose that Wnt signaling orchestrates fin regeneration by defining organizing centers that instruct cellular behaviors of adjacent tissues.
Wnt proteins are conserved signaling molecules that regulate pattern formation during animal development. Many Wnt proteins are post-translationally modified by addition of lipid adducts. Wnt8a provides a crucial signal for patterning the anteroposterior axis of the developing neural plate in vertebrates. However, it is not clear how this protein propagates from its source, the blastoderm margin, to the target cells in the prospective neural plate, and how lipid-modifications might influence Wnt8a propagation and activity.
Wnt/?-catenin signaling plays critical roles during embryogenesis, tissue homeostasis, and regeneration. How Wnt-receptor complex activity is regulated is not yet fully understood. Here, we identify the Ly6 family protein LY6/PLAUR domain-containing 6 (Lypd6) as a positive feedback regulator of Wnt/?-catenin signaling. lypd6 enhances Wnt signaling in zebrafish and Xenopus embryos and in mammalian cells, and it is required for wnt8-mediated patterning of the mesoderm and neuroectoderm during zebrafish gastrulation. Lypd6 is GPI anchored to the plasma membrane and physically interacts with the Wnt receptor Frizzled8 and the coreceptor Lrp6. Biophysical and biochemical evidence indicates that Lypd6 preferentially localizes to raft membrane domains, where Lrp6 is phosphorylated upon Wnt stimulation. lypd6 knockdown or mislocalization of the Lypd6 protein to nonraft membrane domains shifts Lrp6 phosphorylation to these domains and inhibits Wnt signaling. Thus, Lypd6 appears to control Lrp6 activation specifically in membrane rafts, which is essential for downstream signaling.
Zebrafish can completely regenerate amputated fins via formation of a blastema, a proliferative mass of undifferentiated precursor cells. During regenerative growth, blastema proliferation must be tightly coordinated with cellular differentiation, but little is known about how this is achieved. Here, we show that Notch signaling is essential for maintenance of blastema cells in a proliferative undifferentiated state. We found that the Notch pathway is activated in response to fin amputation in the highly proliferative region of the blastema. Chemical interference with Notch signaling resulted in a complete block of regeneration. Notch signaling was not required for the earliest known cellular processes during blastema formation, i.e. dedifferentiation and migration of osteoblasts, but specifically interfered with proliferation of blastema cells. Interestingly, overactivation of the pathway via misexpression of the intracellular domain of the Notch receptor (NICD) likewise inhibited regenerative outgrowth. In NICD-overexpressing fins, overall blastemal cell proliferation was not enhanced, but expanded into proximal regions where cellular differentiation normally occurs. Similarly, blastemal and epidermal gene expression territories invaded proximal regions upon sustained Notch activation. Concomitantly, NICD overexpression suppressed differentiation of osteoblasts and caused an expansion of the undifferentiated blastema. Together, these data suggest that Notch signaling activity maintains blastemal cells in a proliferative state and thus coordinates proliferation with differentiation during regenerative growth.
Regulated migration of hematopoietic stem cells is fundamental for hematopoiesis. The molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell trafficking are poorly defined. Based on a short hairpin RNA library and stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) migration screening assay, we identified the histone 3 lysine 27 demethylase UTX (Kdm6a) as a novel regulator for hematopoietic cell migration. Using hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from our conditional UTX knockout (KO) mice, we were able to confirm the regulatory function of UTX on cell migration. Moreover, adult female conditional UTX KO mice displayed myelodysplasia and splenic erythropoiesis, whereas UTX KO males showed no phenotype. During development, all UTX KO female and a portion of UTX KO male embryos developed a cardiac defect, cranioschisis, and died in utero. Therefore, UTY, the male homolog of UTX, can compensate for UTX in adults and partially during development. Additionally, we found that UTX knockdown in zebrafish significantly impairs SDF-1/CXCR4-dependent migration of primordial germ cells. Our data suggest that UTX is a critical regulator for stem cell migration and hematopoiesis.
Wnt proteins can activate distinct signaling pathways, but little is known about the mechanisms regulating pathway selection. Here we show that the metastasis-associated transmembrane protein Wnt-activated inhibitory factor 1 (Waif1/5T4) interferes with Wnt/?-catenin signaling and concomitantly activates noncanonical Wnt pathways. Waif1 inhibits ?-catenin signaling in zebrafish and Xenopus embryos as well as in mammalian cells, and zebrafish waif1a acts as a direct feedback inhibitor of wnt8-mediated mesoderm and neuroectoderm patterning during zebrafish gastrulation. Waif1a binds to the Wnt coreceptor LRP6 and inhibits Wnt-induced LRP6 internalization into endocytic vesicles, a process that is required for pathway activation. Thus, Waif1a modifies Wnt/?-catenin signaling by regulating LRP6 subcellular localization. In addition, Waif1a enhances ?-catenin-independent Wnt signaling in zebrafish embryos and Xenopus explants by promoting a noncanonical function of Dickkopf1. These results suggest that Waif1 modulates pathway selection in Wnt-receiving cells.
In mammals, myocardial cell death due to infarction results in scar formation and little regenerative response. In contrast, zebrafish have a high capacity to regenerate the heart after surgical resection of myocardial tissue. However, whether zebrafish can also regenerate lesions caused by cell death has not been tested. Here, we present a simple method for induction of necrotic lesions in the adult zebrafish heart based on cryoinjury. Despite widespread tissue death and loss of cardiomyocytes caused by these lesions, zebrafish display a robust regenerative response, which results in substantial clearing of the necrotic tissue and little scar formation. The cellular mechanisms underlying regeneration appear to be similar to those activated in response to ventricular resection. In particular, the epicardium activates a developmental gene program, proliferates and covers the lesion. Concomitantly, mature uninjured cardiomyocytes become proliferative and invade the lesion. Our injury model will be a useful tool to study the molecular mechanisms of natural heart regeneration in response to necrotic cell death.
While mammals have a limited capacity to repair bone defects, zebrafish can completely regenerate amputated bony structures of their fins. Fin regeneration is dependent on formation of a blastema, a progenitor cell pool accumulating at the amputation plane. It is unclear which cells the blastema is derived from, whether it forms by dedifferentiation of mature cells, and whether blastema cells are multipotent. We show that mature osteoblasts dedifferentiate and form part of the blastema. Osteoblasts downregulate expression of intermediate and late bone differentiation markers and induce genes expressed by bone progenitors. Dedifferentiated osteoblasts proliferate in a FGF-dependent manner and migrate to form part of the blastema. Genetic fate mapping shows that osteoblasts only give rise to osteoblasts in the regenerate, indicating that dedifferentiation is not associated with the attainment of multipotency. Thus, bone can regenerate from mature osteoblasts via dedifferentiation, a finding with potential implications for human bone repair.
The zebrafish has the capacity to regenerate many tissues and organs. The caudal fin is one of the most convenient tissues to approach experimentally due to its accessibility, simple structure and fast regeneration. In this work we investigate how the regenerative capacity is affected by recurrent fin amputations and by experimental manipulations that block regeneration.
In the developing heart, the atrioventricular canal (AVC) is essential for separation and alignment of the cardiac chambers, for valve formation, and serves to delay the electrical impulse from the atria to the ventricles. Defects in various aspects of its formation are the most common form of congenital heart defects. Using mutant and transgenic approaches in zebrafish, this study demonstrates that Wnt/?-catenin signaling is both sufficient and required for the induction of BMP4 and Tbx2b expression in the AVC and consequently the proper patterning of the myocardium. Furthermore, genetic analysis shows that Wnt/?-catenin signaling is upstream and in a linear pathway with BMP and Tbx2 during AVC specification.
Systems for spatial and temporal control of gene expression are essential for developmental studies and are of particular importance for research in adult model organisms. We present two modified dually inducible TetON systems for tissue-specific conditional control of gene expression in zebrafish based on (i) a tetracycline inducible transcriptional activator (TetActivator) fused to the ligand binding domain of a mutated glucocorticoid receptor (TetA-GBD) and (ii) a TetActivator fused with a domain of the Ecdysone receptor (TetA-EcR). Both systems showed strong induction of tetracycline-responsive promoters upon administration of the appropriate ligands (doxycycline and dexamethasone for TetA-GBD, and doxycycline and tebufenozide for TetA-EcR), and undetectable leakiness when compared with classical TetActivators. Combinations of transgenic lines expressing TetA-GBD specifically in the heart or the CNS with different Tet-responsive transgenic lines allows conditional and tissue-specific control of gene expression in embryos and adults. Importantly, induction is fully reversible and tunable by the doses of drugs used. The TetA-EcR system avoids the possible side effects of dexamethasone and displays improved sensitivity both in zebrafish and in mammalian cells. These results show that dually inducible TetON systems are convenient tools for reversible and very tightly controlled conditional gene expression in zebrafish.
The zebrafish has recently emerged as an excellent model for studies of heart development and regeneration. The physiology of the zebrafish heart has been suggested to resemble that of the human heart in many aspects, whereas, in contrast to mammals, the zebrafish has a remarkable ability to regenerate after heart injury. Thus, zebrafish have been proposed as a cost-effective model for genetic and pharmacological screens of factors affecting heart function and repair. However, realizing the full potential of the zebrafish heart as a model will require a better understanding of the electrophysiology of the adult zebrafish myocardium. Here, we characterize action potentials (APs) from intact adult atria and ventricles and find that the overall shape of zebrafish APs is similar to that of humans. We show that zebrafish, like most mammals, display functional acetylcholine-activated K(+) channels in the atrium, but not in the ventricle. Furthermore, the zebrafish AP upstroke is dominated by Na(+) channels, L-type Ca(2+) channels contribute to the plateau phase and I(Kr) channels are involved in repolarization. However, despite these similarities between zebrafish and mammalian electrophysiology, we also identified important differences. In particular, zebrafish display a robust T-type Ca(2+) current in both atrial and ventricular cardiomyocytes. Interestingly, in most mammals T-type Ca(2+) channels are only expressed in the developing heart or under pathophysiological conditions, indicating that adult zebrafish cardiomyocytes display a more immature phenotype.
The pronephric kidney controls water and electrolyte balance during early fish and amphibian embryogenesis. Many Wnt signaling components have been implicated in kidney development. Specifically, in Xenopus pronephric development as well as the murine metanephroi, the secreted glycoprotein Wnt-4 has been shown to be essential for renal tubule formation. Despite the importance of Wnt signals in kidney organogenesis, little is known of the definitive downstream signaling pathway(s) that mediate their effects. Here we report that inhibition of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling within the pronephric field of Xenopus results in significant losses to kidney epithelial tubulogenesis with little or no effect on adjoining axis or somite development. We find that the requirement for Wnt/beta-catenin signaling extends throughout the pronephric primordium and is essential for the development of proximal and distal tubules of the pronephros as well as for the development of the duct and glomus. Although less pronounced than effects upon later pronephric tubule differentiation, inhibition of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway decreased expression of early pronephric mesenchymal markers indicating it is also needed in early pronephric patterning. We find that upstream inhibition of Wnt/beta-catenin signals in zebrafish likewise reduces pronephric epithelial tubulogenesis. We also find that exogenous activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling within the Xenopus pronephric field results in significant tubulogenic losses. Together, we propose Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is required for pronephric tubule, duct and glomus formation in Xenopus laevis, and this requirement is conserved in zebrafish pronephric tubule formation.
Dead end (dnd) is a vertebrate-specific component of the germ plasm and germ-cell granules that is crucial for germ-cell development in zebrafish and mouse. Dnd counteracts the inhibitory function of miRNAs, thereby facilitating the expression of proteins such as Nanos and Tdrd7 in the germ cells. Here, we show that cis-acting elements within dnd mRNA and the RNA recognition motive (RRM) of the protein are essential for targeting protein expression to the germ cells and to the perinuclear granules, respectively. We demonstrate that as it executes its function, Dnd translocates between the germ-cell nucleus and germ-cell granules. This phenomenon is not observed in proteins mutated in the RRM motif, correlating with loss of function of Dnd. Based on molecular modeling, we identify the putative RNA binding domain of Dnd as a canonical RRM and propose that this domain is important for protein subcellular localization and function.
Appendage regeneration in salamanders and fish occurs through formation and maintenance of a mass of progenitor tissue called the blastema. A dedicated epidermis overlays the blastema and is required for its proliferation and patterning, yet this interaction is poorly understood. Here, we identified molecularly and functionally distinct compartments within the basal epidermal layer during zebrafish fin regeneration. Proximal epidermal subtypes express the transcription factor lef1 and the blastemal mitogen shh, while distal subtypes express the Fgf target gene pea3 and wnt5b, an inhibitor of blastemal proliferation. Ectopic overexpression of wnt5b reduced shh expression, while pharmacologic introduction of a Hh pathway agonist partially rescued blastemal proliferation during wnt5b overexpression. Loss- and gain-of-function approaches indicate that Fgf signaling promotes shh expression in proximal epidermis, while Fgf/Ras signaling restricts shh expression from distal epidermis through induction of pea3 expression and maintenance of wnt5b. Thus, the fin wound epidermis spatially confines Hh signaling through the activity of Fgf and Wnt pathways, impacting blastemal proliferation during regenerative outgrowth.
Interactions between developmental signaling pathways govern the formation and function of stem cells. Prostaglandin (PG) E2 regulates vertebrate hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Similarly, the Wnt signaling pathway controls HSC self-renewal and bone marrow repopulation. Here, we show that wnt reporter activity in zebrafish HSCs is responsive to PGE2 modulation, demonstrating a direct interaction in vivo. Inhibition of PGE2 synthesis blocked wnt-induced alterations in HSC formation. PGE2 modified the wnt signaling cascade at the level of beta-catenin degradation through cAMP/PKA-mediated stabilizing phosphorylation events. The PGE2/Wnt interaction regulated murine stem and progenitor populations in vitro in hematopoietic ES cell assays and in vivo following transplantation. The relationship between PGE2 and Wnt was also conserved during regeneration of other organ systems. Our work provides in vivo evidence that Wnt activation in stem cells requires PGE2, and suggests the PGE2/Wnt interaction is a master regulator of vertebrate regeneration and recovery.
The creation of molecular tools able to unravel in vivo spatiotemporal activation of specific cell signaling events during cell migration, differentiation and morphogenesis is of great relevance to developmental cell biology. Here, we describe the generation, validation and applications of two transgenic reporter lines for Wnt/?-catenin signaling, named TCFsiam, and show that they are reliable and sensitive Wnt biosensors for in vivo studies. We demonstrate that these lines sensitively detect Wnt/?-catenin pathway activity in several cellular contexts, from sensory organs to cardiac valve patterning. We provide evidence that Wnt/?-catenin activity is involved in the formation and maintenance of the zebrafish CNS blood vessel network, on which sox10 neural crest-derived cells migrate and proliferate. We finally show that these transgenic lines allow for screening of Wnt signaling modifying compounds, tissue regeneration assessment as well as evaluation of potential Wnt/?-catenin genetic modulators.
Zebrafish wnt2bb mutants initially fail to form a liver, but surprisingly the liver eventually forms in a majority of these embryos which then develop into fertile adults. This unexpected result raised the possibility that identifying the mechanisms of liver formation in wnt2bb mutants could provide insights into the poorly understood yet general principle of regulative development, a process by which some cells can change fate in order to compensate for a deficiency. Here, we identify two factors that underlie the regulative capacity of endodermal tissues: an intrinsic factor, Sox32, a transcription factor of the SoxF subfamily, and an extrinsic factor, Fgf10a. sox32 is expressed in the extrahepatic duct primordium which is not affected in wnt2bb mutants. Blocking Sox32 function prevented liver formation in most wnt2bb mutants. fgf10a, which is expressed in the mesenchyme surrounding non-hepatic endodermal cells, negatively impacts the regulative capacity of endodermal tissues. In Wnt/?-catenin signaling deficient embryos, in which the liver completely fails to form, the repression of Fgf10a function allowed liver formation. Altogether, these studies reveal that there is more than one way to form a liver, and provide molecular insights into the phenomenon of tissue plasticity.
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