222 research outputs found

    Atp7a determines a hierarchy of copper metabolism essential for notochord development

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    SummaryThe critical developmental and genetic requirements of copper metabolism during embryogenesis are unknown. Utilizing a chemical genetic screen in zebrafish, we identified small molecules that perturb copper homeostasis. Our findings reveal a role for copper in notochord formation and demonstrate a hierarchy of copper metabolism within the embryo. To elucidate these observations, we interrogated a genetic screen for embryos phenocopied by copper deficiency, identifying calamity, a mutant defective in the zebrafish ortholog of the Menkes disease gene (atp7a). Copper metabolism in calamity is restored by human ATP7A, and transplantation experiments reveal that atp7a functions cell autonomously, findings with important therapeutic implications. The gene dosage of atp7a determines the sensitivity to copper deprivation, revealing that the observed developmental hierarchy of copper metabolism is informed by specific genetic factors. Our data provide insight into the developmental pathophysiology of copper metabolism and suggest that suboptimal copper metabolism may contribute to birth defects

    Migration of Zebrafish Primordial Germ Cells: A Role for Myosin Contraction and Cytoplasmic Flow

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    SummaryThe molecular and cellular mechanisms governing cell motility and directed migration in response to the chemokine SDF-1 are largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that zebrafish primordial germ cells whose migration is guided by SDF-1 generate bleb-like protrusions that are powered by cytoplasmic flow. Protrusions are formed at sites of higher levels of free calcium where activation of myosin contraction occurs. Separation of the acto-myosin cortex from the plasma membrane at these sites is followed by a flow of cytoplasm into the forming bleb. We propose that polarized activation of the receptor CXCR4 leads to a rise in free calcium that in turn activates myosin contraction in the part of the cell responding to higher levels of the ligand SDF-1. The biased formation of new protrusions in a particular region of the cell in response to SDF-1 defines the leading edge and the direction of cell migration

    Polarized cortical tension drives zebrafish epiboly movements

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    The principles underlying the biomechanics of morphogenesis are largely unknown. Epiboly is an essential embryonic event in which three tissues coordinate to direct the expansion of the blastoderm. How and where forces are generated during epiboly, and how these are globally coupled remains elusive. Here we developed a method, hydrodynamic regression (HR), to infer 3D pressure fields, mechanical power, and cortical surface tension profiles. HR is based on velocity measurements retrieved from 2D+T microscopy and their hydrodynamic modeling. We applied HR to identify biomechanically active structures and changes in cortex local tension during epiboly in zebrafish. Based on our results, we propose a novel physical description for epiboly, where tissue movements are directed by a polarized gradient of cortical tension. We found that this gradient relies on local contractile forces at the cortex, differences in elastic properties between cortex components and the passive transmission of forces within the yolk cell. All in all, our work identifies a novel way to physically regulate concerted cellular movements that might be instrumental for the mechanical control of many morphogenetic processes.Peer ReviewedPostprint (author's final draft

    Stability analysis of non-autonomous reaction-diffusion systems: the effects of growing domains

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    By using asymptotic theory, we generalise the Turing diffusively-driven instability conditions for reaction-diffusion systems with slow, isotropic domain growth. There are two fundamental biological differences between the Turing conditions on fixed and growing domains, namely: (i) we need not enforce cross nor pure kinetic conditions and (ii) the restriction to activator-inhibitor kinetics to induce pattern formation on a growing biological system is no longer a requirement. Our theoretical findings are confirmed and reinforced by numerical simulations for the special cases of isotropic linear, exponential and logistic growth profiles. In particular we illustrate an example of a reaction-diffusion system which cannot exhibit a diffusively-driven instability on a fixed domain but is unstable in the presence of slow growth

    Dispatched Homolog 2 is targeted by miR-214 through a combination of three weak microRNA recognition sites

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    MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by inhibiting translation of target mRNAs through pairing with miRNA recognition elements (MREs), usually in 3′ UTRs. Because pairing is imperfect, identification of bona fide mRNA targets presents a challenge. Most target recognition algorithms strongly emphasize pairing between nucleotides 2–8 of the miRNA (the ‘seed’ sequence) and the mRNA but adjacent sequences and the local context of the 3′ UTR also affect targeting. Here, we show that dispatched 2 is a target of miR-214. In zebrafish, dispatched 2 is expressed in the telencephalon and ventral hindbrain and is essential for normal zebrafish development. Regulation of dispatched 2 by miR-214 is via pairing with three, noncanonical, weak MREs. By comparing the repression capacity of GFP reporters containing different dispatched 2 sequences, we found that a combination of weak sites, which lack canonical seed pairing, can effectively target an mRNA for silencing. This finding underscores the challenge that prediction algorithms face and emphasizes the need to experimentally validate predicted MREs

    Ptenb Mediates Gastrulation Cell Movements via Cdc42/AKT1 in Zebrafish

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    Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3 kinase) mediates gastrulation cell migration in zebrafish via its regulation of PIP2/PIP3 balance. Although PI3 kinase counter enzyme PTEN has also been reported to be essential for gastrulation, its role in zebrafish gastrulation has been controversial due to the lack of gastrulation defects in pten-null mutants. To clarify this issue, we knocked down a pten isoform, ptenb by using anti-sense morpholino oligos (MOs) in zebrafish embryos and found that ptenb MOs inhibit convergent extension by affecting cell motility and protrusion during gastrulation. The ptenb MO-induced convergence defect could be rescued by a PI3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002 and by overexpressing dominant negative Cdc42. Overexpression of human constitutively active akt1 showed similar convergent extension defects in zebrafish embryos. We also observed a clear enhancement of actin polymerization in ptenb morphants under cofocal microscopy and in actin polymerization assay. These results suggest that Ptenb by antagonizing PI3 kinase and its downstream Akt1 and Cdc42 to regulate actin polymerization that is critical for proper cell motility and migration control during gastrulation in zebrafish

    Gene expression time delays & Turing pattern formation systems

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    The incorporation of time delays can greatly affect the behaviour of partial differential equations and dynamical systems. In addition, there is evidence that time delays in gene expression due to transcription and translation play an important role in the dynamics of cellular systems. In this paper, we investigate the effects of incorporating gene expression time delays into a one-dimensional putative reaction diffusion pattern formation mechanism on both stationary domains and domains with spatially uniform exponential growth. While oscillatory behaviour is rare, we find that the time taken to initiate and stabilise patterns increases dramatically as the time delay is increased. In addition, we observe that on rapidly growing domains the time delay can induce a failure of the Turing instability which cannot be predicted by a naive linear analysis of the underlying equations about the homogeneous steady state. The dramatic lag in the induction of patterning, or even its complete absence on occasions, highlights the importance of considering explicit gene expression time delays in models for cellular reaction diffusion patterning

    Characterization of Turing diffusion-driven instability on evolving domains

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    In this paper we establish a general theoretical framework for Turing diffusion-driven instability for reaction-diffusion systems on time-dependent evolving domains. The main result is that Turing diffusion-driven instability for reaction-diffusion systems on evolving domains is characterised by Lyapunov exponents of the evolution family associated with the linearised system (obtained by linearising the original system along a spatially independent solution). This framework allows for the inclusion of the analysis of the long-time behavior of the solutions of reaction-diffusion systems. Applications to two special types of evolving domains are considered: (i) time-dependent domains which evolve to a final limiting fixed domain and (ii) time-dependent domains which are eventually time periodic. Reaction-diffusion systems have been widely proposed as plausible mechanisms for pattern formation in morphogenesis

    Aberrant behaviours of reaction diffusion self-organisation models on growing domains in the presence of gene expression time delays

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    Turing’s pattern formation mechanism exhibits sensitivity to the details of the initial conditions suggesting that, in isolation, it cannot robustly generate pattern within noisy biological environments. Nonetheless, secondary aspects of developmental self-organisation, such as a growing domain, have been shown to ameliorate this aberrant model behaviour. Furthermore, while in-situ hybridisation reveals the presence of gene expression in developmental processes, the influence of such dynamics on Turing’s model has received limited attention. Here, we novelly focus on the Gierer–Meinhardt reaction diffusion system considering delays due the time taken for gene expression, while incorporating a number of different domain growth profiles to further explore the influence and interplay of domain growth and gene expression on Turing’s mechanism. We find extensive pathological model behaviour, exhibiting one or more of the following: temporal oscillations with no spatial structure, a failure of the Turing instability and an extreme sensitivity to the initial conditions, the growth profile and the duration of gene expression. This deviant behaviour is even more severe than observed in previous studies of Schnakenberg kinetics on exponentially growing domains in the presence of gene expression (Gaffney and Monk in Bull. Math. Biol. 68:99–130, 2006). Our results emphasise that gene expression dynamics induce unrealistic behaviour in Turing’s model for multiple choices of kinetics and thus such aberrant modelling predictions are likely to be generic. They also highlight that domain growth can no longer ameliorate the excessive sensitivity of Turing’s mechanism in the presence of gene expression time delays. The above, extensive, pathologies suggest that, in the presence of gene expression, Turing’s mechanism would generally require a novel and extensive secondary mechanism to control reaction diffusion patterning

    Kinase-activating and kinase-impaired cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome alleles have activity during zebrafish development and are sensitive to small molecule inhibitors

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    The Ras/MAPK pathway is critical for human development and plays a central role in the formation and progression of most cancers. Children born with germ-line mutations in BRAF, MEK1 or MEK2 develop cardio-facio-cutaneous (CFC) syndrome, an autosomal dominant syndrome characterized by a distinctive facial appearance, heart defects, skin and hair abnormalities and mental retardation. CFC syndrome mutations in BRAF promote both kinase-activating and kinase-impaired variants. CFC syndrome has a progressive phenotype, and the availability of clinically active inhibitors of the MAPK pathway prompts the important question as to whether such inhibitors might be therapeutically effective in the treatment of CFC syndrome. To study the developmental effects of CFC mutant alleles in vivo, we have expressed a panel of 28 BRAF and MEK alleles in zebrafish embryos to assess the function of human disease alleles and available chemical inhibitors of this pathway. We find that both kinase-activating and kinase-impaired CFC mutant alleles promote the equivalent developmental outcome when expressed during early development and that treatment of CFC-zebrafish embryos with inhibitors of the FGF-MAPK pathway can restore normal early development. Importantly, we find a developmental window in which treatment with a MEK inhibitor can restore the normal early development of the embryo, without the additional, unwanted developmental effects of the drug
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