Facial branchiomotor neurons (FBMs) of vertebrates typically develop in rhombomere 4 (r4), and in mammals and several other vertebrate taxa, migrate caudally into r6 and subsequently laterally and ventrally to the pial surface. How similar or dissimilar these migratory processes between species are at a molecular level remains unclear. In zebrafish and mouse, mutations in certain PCP genes disrupt normal caudal migration of FBMs. Zebrafish prickle1a (prickle-like 1a) and prickle1b, two orthologs of Prickle1, act non-cell-autonomously and cell-autonomously, respectively, to regulate FBM migration. Here, we show that, in Prickle1 (C251X/C251X) mice which have reduced Prickle1 expression, the caudal migration of FBMs is affected. Most FBM neurons do not migrate caudally along the floor plate. However, some neurons perform limited caudal migration such that the neurons eventually lie near the pial surface from r4 to anterior r6. FBMs in Prickle1 (C251X/C251X) mice survive until P0 and form an ectopic nucleus dorsal to the olivo-cochlear efferents of r4. Ror2, which modifies the PCP pathway in other systems, is expressed by the migrating mouse FBMs, but is not required for FBM caudal migration. Our results suggest that, in mice, Prickle1 is part of a molecular mechanism that regulates FBM caudal migration and separates the FBM and the olivo-cochlear efferents. This defective caudal migration of FBMs in Prickle1C251X mutants resembles Vangl2 mutant defects. In contrast to other developing systems that show similar defects in Prickle1, Wnt5a and Ror2, the latter two only have limited or no effect on FBM caudal migration.
The morphology of bones is genetically determined, but the molecular mechanisms that control shape, size and the overall gestalt of bones remain unclear. We previously showed that metacarpals in the synpolydactyly homolog (spdh) mouse, which carries a mutation in Hoxd13 similar to the human condition synpolydactyly (SPD), were transformed to carpal-like bones with cuboid shape that lack cortical bone and a perichondrium and are surrounded by a joint surface. Here we provide evidence that spdh metacarpal growth plates have a defect in cell polarization with a random instead of linear orientation. In parallel prospective perichondral cells failed to adopt the characteristic flattened cell shape. We observed a similar cell polarity defect in metacarpals of Wnt5a(-/-) mice. Wnt5a and the closely related Wnt5b were downregulated in spdh handplates, and HOXD13 induced expression of both genes in vitro. Concomitant we observed mislocalization of core planar cell polarity (PCP) components DVL2 and PRICKLE1 in spdh metacarpals indicating a defect in the WNT/PCP pathway. Conversely the WNT/?-CATENIN pathway, a hallmark of joint cells lining carpal bones, was upregulated in the perichondral region. Finally, providing spdh limb explant cultures with cells expressing either HOXD13 or WNT5A led to a non-cell autonomous partial rescue of cell polarity the perichondral region and restored the expression of perichondral markers. This study provides a so far unrecognized link between HOX proteins and cell polarity in the perichondrium and the growth plate, a failure of which leads to transformation of metacarpals to carpal-like structures.
Metacarpal 4-5 fusion (MF4; MIM %309630) is a rare congenital malformation of the hand characterised by the partial or complete fusion of the fourth and fifth metacarpals. The anomaly occurs as an isolated trait or part of a genetic syndrome.
Cell size is determined by the balance between protein synthesis and degradation. This equilibrium is affected by hormones, nutrients, energy levels, mechanical stress and cytokines. Mutations that inactivate myostatin lead to excessive muscle growth in animals and humans, but the signals and pathways responsible for this hypertrophy remain largely unknown. Here we show that bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, acting through Smad1, Smad5 and Smad8 (Smad1/5/8), is the fundamental hypertrophic signal in mice. Inhibition of BMP signaling causes muscle atrophy, abolishes the hypertrophic phenotype of myostatin-deficient mice and strongly exacerbates the effects of denervation and fasting. BMP-Smad1/5/8 signaling negatively regulates a gene (Fbxo30) that encodes a ubiquitin ligase required for muscle loss, which we named muscle ubiquitin ligase of the SCF complex in atrophy-1 (MUSA1). Collectively, these data identify a critical role for the BMP pathway in adult muscle maintenance, growth and atrophy.
Split-hand/foot malformation (SHFM)-also known as ectrodactyly-is a congenital disorder characterised by severe malformations of the distal limbs affecting the central rays of hands and/or feet. A distinct entity termed SHFLD presents with SHFM and long bone deficiency. Mouse models suggest that a defect of the central apical ectodermal ridge leads to the phenotype. Although six different loci/mutations (SHFM1-6) have been associated with SHFM, the underlying cause in a large number of cases is still unresolved.
Skeletal malformations are among the most frequent developmental disturbances in humans. In the past years, progress has been made in unraveling the molecular mechanisms that govern skeletal development by the use of animal models as well as by the identification of numerous mutations that cause human skeletal syndromes. Receptor tyrosine kinases have critical roles in embryonic development. During formation of the skeletal system, the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family plays major roles in the formation of cranial, axial, and appendicular bones. Another player of relevance to skeletal development is the unusual receptor tyrosine kinase ROR2, the function of which is as interesting as it is complex. In this chapter, we review the involvement of FGFR signaling in human skeletal disease and provide an update on the growing knowledge of ROR2.
The regulation of progenitor cell differentiation to a specific tissue type is one of the fundamental questions of biology. Here, we identify Osr1 and Osr2, 2 closely related genes encoding zinc finger transcription factors, as being strongly expressed in irregular connective tissue (ICT) fibroblasts in the chicken embryo, suitable as a developmental marker. We provide evidence that both Osr1 and Osr2 regulate mesenchymal cell-type differentiation. Both Osr1 and Osr2 can promote the formation of ICT, a cell type of so far unknown molecular specification, while suppressing differentiation of other tissues such as cartilage and tendon from uncommitted progenitors. Conversely, knockdown of either Osr gene alone or in combination reverses this effect, thereby leading to decreased differentiation of ICT fibroblasts and increased chondrogenesis in vitro. This indicates that Osr genes play a pivotal role in ICT fibroblast differentiation. Undifferentiated mesenchymal cells reside in the adult body in the form of mesenchymal stem cells in the bone marrow cavity. Using bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) isolated from chicken fetal long bones, we show that Osr1 and Osr2 have an intrinsic role in BMSC differentiation similar to their role in early embryonic development, that is, the enforcement of CT fibroblast differentiation and the repression of other cell types as exemplified here by osteoblast differentiation.
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a multi-system disease caused by mutations in the NF1 gene encoding a Ras-GAP protein, neurofibromin, which negatively regulates Ras signaling. Besides neuroectodermal malformations and tumors, the skeletal system is often affected (e.g. scoliosis and long bone dysplasia) demonstrating the importance of neurofibromin for development and maintenance of the musculoskeletal system. Here, we focus on the role of neurofibromin in skeletal muscle development. Nf1 gene inactivation in the early limb bud mesenchyme using Prx1-cre (Nf1(Prx1)) resulted in muscle dystrophy characterized by fibrosis, reduced number of muscle fibers and reduced muscle force. This was caused by an early defect in myogenesis affecting the terminal differentiation of myoblasts between E12.5 and E14.5. In parallel, the muscle connective tissue cells exhibited increased proliferation at E14.5 and an increase in the amount of connective tissue as early as E16.5. These changes were accompanied by excessive mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activation. Satellite cells isolated from Nf1(Prx1) mice showed normal self-renewal, but their differentiation was impaired as indicated by diminished myotube formation. Our results demonstrate a requirement of neurofibromin for muscle formation and maintenance. This previously unrecognized function of neurofibromin may contribute to the musculoskeletal problems in NF1 patients.
Proteoglycans are a major component of extracellular matrix and contribute to normal embryonic and postnatal development by ensuring tissue stability and signaling functions. We studied five patients with recessive joint dislocations and congenital heart defects, including bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) and aortic root dilatation. We identified linkage to chromosome 11 and detected a mutation (c.830G>A, p.Arg277Gln) in B3GAT3, the gene coding for glucuronosyltransferase-I (GlcAT-I). The enzyme catalyzes an initial step in the synthesis of glycosaminoglycan side chains of proteoglycans. Patients cells as well as recombinant mutant protein showed reduced glucuronyltransferase activity. Patient fibroblasts demonstrated decreased levels of dermatan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and heparan sulfate proteoglycans, indicating that the defect in linker synthesis affected all three lines of O-glycanated proteoglycans. Further studies demonstrated that GlcAT-I resides in the cis and cis-medial Golgi apparatus and is expressed in the affected tissues, i.e., heart, aorta, and bone. The study shows that reduced GlcAT-I activity impairs skeletal as well as heart development and results in variable combinations of heart malformations, including mitral valve prolapse, ventricular septal defect, and bicuspid aortic valve. The described family constitutes a syndrome characterized by heart defects and joint dislocations resulting from altered initiation of proteoglycan synthesis (Larsen-like syndrome, B3GAT3 type).
Indian hedgehog (IHH) is a secreted signaling molecule of the hedgehog family known to play important roles in the regulation of chondrocyte differentiation, cortical bone formation, and the development of joints. Here, we describe that copy-number variations of the IHH locus involving conserved noncoding elements (CNEs) are associated with syndactyly and craniosynostosis. These CNEs are able to drive reporter gene expression in a pattern highly similar to wild-type Ihh expression. We postulate that the observed duplications lead to a misexpression and/or overexpression of IHH and by this affect the complex regulatory signaling network during digit and skull development.
Elongation of the digit rays resulting in the formation of a defined number of phalanges is a process poorly understood in mammals, whereas in the chicken distal mesenchymal bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling in the so-called phalanx-forming region (PFR) or digit crescent (DC) seems to be involved. The human brachydactylies (BDs) are inheritable conditions characterized by variable degrees of digit shortening, thus providing an ideal model to analyze the development and elongation of phalanges. We used a mouse model for BDB1 (Ror2(W749X/W749X)) lacking middle phalanges and show that a signaling center corresponding to the chick PFR exists in the mouse, which is diminished in BDB1 mice. This resulted in a strongly impaired elongation of the digit condensations due to reduced chondrogenic commitment of undifferentiated distal mesenchymal cells. We further show that a similar BMP-based mechanism accounts for digit shortening in a mouse model for the closely related condition BDA1 (Ihh(E95K/E95K)), altogether indicating the functional significance of the PFR in mammals. Genetic interaction experiments as well as pathway analysis in BDB1 mice suggest that Indian hedgehog and WNT/beta-catenin signaling, which we show is inhibited by receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (ROR2) in distal limb mesenchyme, are acting upstream of BMP signaling in the PFR.
Ectodermal dysplasias form a large disease family with more than 200 members. The combination of hair and tooth abnormalities, alopecia, and cutaneous syndactyly is characteristic of ectodermal dysplasia-syndactyly syndrome (EDSS). We used a homozygosity mapping approach to map the EDSS locus to 1q23 in a consanguineous Algerian family. By candidate gene analysis, we identified a homozygous mutation in the PVRL4 gene that not only evoked an amino acid change but also led to exon skipping. In an Italian family with two siblings affected by EDSS, we further detected a missense and a frameshift mutation. PVRL4 encodes for nectin-4, a cell adhesion molecule mainly implicated in the formation of cadherin-based adherens junctions. We demonstrated high nectin-4 expression in hair follicle structures, as well as in the separating digits of murine embryos, the tissues mainly affected by the EDSS phenotype. In patient keratinocytes, mutated nectin-4 lost its capability to bind nectin-1. Additionally, in discrete structures of the hair follicle, we found alterations of the membrane localization of nectin-afadin and cadherin-catenin complexes, which are essential for adherens junction formation, and we found reorganization of actin cytoskeleton. Together with cleft lip and/or palate ectodermal dysplasia (CLPED1, or Zlotogora-Ogur syndrome) due to an impaired function of nectin-1, EDSS is the second known "nectinopathy" caused by mutations in a nectin adhesion molecule.
The lamin B receptor (LBR) is an inner nuclear membrane protein with a structural function interacting with chromatin and lamins, and an enzymatic function as a sterol reductase. Heterozygous LBR mutations cause nuclear hyposegmentation in neutrophils (Pelger anomaly), while homozygous mutations cause prenatal death with skeletal defects and abnormal sterol metabolism (Greenberg dysplasia). It has remained unclear whether the lethality in Greenberg dysplasia is due to cholesterol defects or altered nuclear morphology.To answer this question we characterized two LBR missense mutations and showed that they cause Greenberg dysplasia. Both mutations affect residues that are evolutionary conserved among sterol reductases. In contrast to wildtype LBR, both mutations failed to rescue C14 sterol reductase deficient yeast, indicating an enzymatic defect. We found no Pelger anomaly in the carrier parent excluding marked effects on nuclear structure. We studied Lbr in mouse embryos and demonstrate expression in skin and the developing skeletal system consistent with sites of histological changes in Greenberg dysplasia. Unexpectedly we found in disease-relevant cell types not only nuclear but also cytoplasmatic LBR localization. The cytoplasmatic LBR staining co-localized with ER-markers and is thus consistent with the sites of endogeneous sterol synthesis. We conclude that LBR missense mutations can abolish sterol reductase activity, causing lethal Greenberg dysplasia but not Pelger anomaly. The findings separate the metabolic from the structural function and indicate that the sterol reductase activity is essential for human intrauterine development.
Dishevelled (Dvl) is a multifunctional effector of different Wnt cascades. Both canonical Wnt3a and noncanonical Wnt5a stimulate casein-kinase-1 (CK1) -mediated phosphorylation of Dvl, visualized as electrophoretic mobility shift [phosphorylated and shifted Dvl (ps-Dvl)]. However, the role of this phosphorylation remains obscure. Here we report the functional interaction of ps-Dvl with the receptor tyrosine kinase Ror2, which is an alternative Wnt receptor and is able to inhibit canonical Wnt signaling. We demonstrate interaction between Ror2 and ps-Dvl at the cell membrane after Wnt3a or Wnt5a stimulus dependent on CK1. Ps-Dvl interacts with the C-terminal proline-serine-threonine-rich domain of Ror2, which is required for efficient inhibition of canonical Wnt signaling. We further show that the Dvl C terminus, which seems to be exposed in ps-Dvl and efficiently binds Ror2, is an intrinsic negative regulator of the canonical Wnt pathway downstream of beta-catenin. The Dvl C terminus is necessary and sufficient to inhibit canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling, which is dependent on the presence of Ror2. Furthermore, both the Dvl C terminus and CK1epsilon can inhibit the Wnt5a/Ror2/ATF2 pathway in mammalian cells and Xenopus explant cultures. This suggests that phosphorylation of Dvl triggers negative feedback regulation for different branches of Wnt signaling in a Ror2-dependent manner.
Mental retardation is a genetically heterogeneous disorder, as more than 90 genes for this disorder has been found on the X chromosome alone. In addition the majority of patients are non-syndromic in that they do not present with clinically recognisable features. This makes it difficult to determine the molecular cause of this disorder on the basis of the phenotype alone. Mutations in KDM5C (previously named SMCX or JARID1C), a gene that encodes a transcriptional regulator with histone demethylase activity specific for dimethylated and trimethylated H3K4, are a comparatively frequent cause of non-syndromic X-linked mental retardation (NS-XLMR). Specific transcriptional targets of KDM5C, however, are still unknown and the effects of KDM5C deficiency on gene expression have not yet been investigated.
Parathyroid hormone-like hormone (PTHLH) is an important chondrogenic regulator; however, the gene has not been directly linked to human disease. We studied a family with autosomal-dominant Brachydactyly Type E (BDE) and identified a t(8;12)(q13;p11.2) translocation with breakpoints (BPs) upstream of PTHLH on chromosome 12p11.2 and a disrupted KCNB2 on 8q13. We sequenced the BPs and identified a highly conserved Activator protein 1 (AP-1) motif on 12p11.2, together with a C-ets-1 motif translocated from 8q13. AP-1 and C-ets-1 bound in vitro and in vivo at the derivative chromosome 8 breakpoint [der(8) BP], but were differently enriched between the wild-type and BP allele. We differentiated fibroblasts from BDE patients into chondrogenic cells and found that PTHLH and its targets, ADAMTS-7 and ADAMTS-12 were downregulated along with impaired chondrogenic differentiation. We next used human and murine chondrocytes and observed that the AP-1 motif stimulated, whereas der(8) BP or C-ets-1 decreased, PTHLH promoter activity. These results are the first to identify a cis-directed PTHLH downregulation as primary cause of human chondrodysplasia.
Wtip is a LIM domain protein of the Ajuba/Zyxin family involved in kidney and neural crest development; Ror2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the development of skeleton, heart, lung, genitalia and kidneys. Here we describe Wtip as an intracellular interaction partner of Ror2. Full-length Ror2 recruits Wtip to the cell membrane, a mutant involved in human disease fails to do so. Both genes and proteins show overlapping expression in the mouse embryo. We show that Wtip is able to inhibit canonical Wnt signalling in mammalian cells and in Xenopus embryos linking Wtip to a crucial developmental pathway.
Mutations in ROR2 cause dominant brachydactyly type B (BDB1) or recessive Robinow syndrome (RRS), each characterized by a distinct combination of phenotypic features. We here report a novel nonsense mutation in ROR2 (c.1324C>T; p.R441X) causing intracellular protein truncation in a patient exhibiting features of RRS in conjunction with severe recessive brachydactyly. The mutation is located at the same position as a previously described frame shift mutation causing dominant BDB1. To investigate the apparent discrepancy in phenotypic outcome, we analysed ROR2 protein stability and distribution in stably transfected cell lines expressing exact copies of several human RRS and BDB1 intracellular mutations. RRS mutant proteins were less abundant and retained intracellularly, although BDB1 mutants were stable and predominantly located at the cell membrane. The p.R441X mutation showed an intermediate pattern with membrane localization but also high endoplasmic reticulum retention. Furthermore, we observed a correlation between the severity of BDB1, the location of the mutation, and the amount of membrane-associated ROR2. Membrane protein fraction quantification revealed a gradient of distribution and stability correlating with the clinical phenotypes. This gradual model was confirmed by crossing mouse models for RRS and BDB1, yielding double heterozygous animals that exhibited an intermediate phenotype. We propose a model in which the RRS versus the BDB1 phenotype is determined by the relative degree of protein retention/degradation and the amount of mutant protein reaching the plasma membrane.
Signaling output of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) is determined by two sets of opposing interactions, one with heterotetrameric complexes of cell surface receptors, the other with secreted antagonists that act as ligand traps. We identified two mutations (N445K,T) in patients with multiple synostosis syndrome (SYM1) in the BMP-related ligand GDF5. Functional studies of both mutants in chicken micromass culture demonstrated a gain of function caused by a resistance to the BMP-inhibitor NOGGIN and an altered signaling effect. Residue N445, situated within overlapping receptor and antagonist interfaces, is highly conserved among the BMP family with the exception of BMP9 and BMP10, in which it is substituted with lysine. Like the mutant GDF5, both BMPs are insensitive to NOGGIN and show a high chondrogenic activity. Ectopic expression of BMP9 or the GDF5 mutants resulted in massive induction of cartilage in an in vivo chick model presumably by bypassing the feedback inhibition imposed by endogenous NOGGIN. Swapping residues at the mutation site alone was not sufficient to render Bmp9 NOG-sensitive; however, successive introduction of two additional substitutions imparted high to total sensitivity on customized variants of Bmp9. In conclusion, we show a new mechanism for abnormal joint development that interferes with a naturally occurring regulatory mechanism of BMP signaling.
Brachydactyly type A1 (BDA1) was the first recorded disorder of the autosomal dominant Mendelian trait in humans, characterized by shortened or absent middle phalanges in digits. It is associated with heterozygous missense mutations in indian hedgehog (IHH). Hedgehog proteins are important morphogens for a wide range of developmental processes. The capacity and range of signalling is thought to be regulated by its interaction with the receptor PTCH1 and antagonist HIP1. Here we show that a BDA1 mutation (E95K) in Ihh impairs the interaction of IHH with PTCH1 and HIP1. This is consistent with a recent paper showing that BDA1 mutations cluster in a calcium-binding site essential for the interaction with its receptor and cell-surface partners. Furthermore, we show that in a mouse model that recapitulates the E95K mutation, there is a change in the potency and range of signalling. The mice have digit abnormalities consistent with the human disorder.
Wnt signalling plays important roles in patterning and outgrowth of the vertebrate limb. Different mutations in Wnt genes, their antagonists or (co-)receptors result in patterning and outgrowth defects as well as chondrocyte and bone phenotypes in mouse and human. Understanding Wnt activity during mouse limb development and chondrogenesis requires a temporal and spatial overview of Wnt signalling key factor expression. Here we present a comparative expression analysis of all 19 Wnt genes and their major secreted antagonists of the Dickkopf (Dkk), Wisp and the secreted frizzled related protein (Sfrp) families during mouse limb development. Our study reveals new domains of expression for Wnt2, Wnt2b, Wnt5b, Wnt6, Wnt7b, Wnt9a, Wnt10a, Wnt10b, Wnt11 and Wnt16, in the limb. We also identified novel expression domains for the Wnt antagonists Sfrp1, Sfrp3, Sfrp5, Wisp1 as well as Dkk2 and Dkk3. We provide a full expression pattern for Wif1 in limb development, for which no limb expression had been documented so far.
Translocations are chromosomal rearrangements that are frequently associated with a variety of disease states and developmental disorders. We identified 2 families with brachydactyly type E (BDE) resulting from different translocations affecting chromosome 12p. Both translocations caused downregulation of the parathyroid hormone-like hormone (PTHLH) gene by disrupting the cis-regulatory landscape. Using chromosome conformation capturing, we identified a regulator on chromosome 12q that interacts in cis with PTHLH over a 24.4-megabase distance and in trans with the sex-determining region Y-box 9 (SOX9) gene on chromosome 17q. The element also harbored a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). Silencing of the lncRNA, PTHLH, or SOX9 revealed a feedback mechanism involving an expression-dependent network in humans. In the BDE patients, the human lncRNA was upregulated by the disrupted chromosomal association. Moreover, the lncRNA occupancy at the PTHLH locus was reduced. Our results document what we believe to be a novel in cis- and in trans-acting DNA and lncRNA regulatory feedback element that is reciprocally regulated by coding genes. Furthermore, our findings provide a systematic and combinatorial view of how enhancers encoding lncRNAs may affect gene expression in normal development.
Cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD) is an autosomal dominant skeletal disorder characterised by hypoplastic or absent clavicles, increased head circumference, large fontanels, dental anomalies and short stature. Although CCD is usually caused by mutations leading to haploinsufficiency of RUNX2, the underlying genetic cause remains unresolved in about 25% of cases.
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