J. Dev. Biol.2014, 2(3), 174-197; doi:10.3390/jdb2030174 - published online 26 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Retinoic acid signaling is required at several steps during the development of the spinal cord, from the specification of generic properties to the final acquisition of neuronal subtype identities, including its role in trunk neural crest development. These functions are associated with the production of retinoic acid in specific tissues and are highly dependent on context. Here, we review the defects associated with retinoic acid signaling manipulations, mostly in chick and mouse models, trying to separate the different processes where retinoic acid signaling is involved and to highlight common features, such as its ability to promote transitions along the neuronal differentiation cascade.
J. Dev. Biol.2014, 2(3), 158-173; doi:10.3390/jdb2030158 - published online 26 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Retinoids function as important regulatory signaling molecules during development, acting in cellular growth and differentiation both during embryogenesis and in the adult animal. In 1953, Fell and Mellanby first found that excess vitamin A can induce transdifferentiation of chick embryonic epidermis to a mucous epithelium (Fell, H.B.; Mellanby, E. Metaplasia produced in cultures of chick ectoderm by high vitamin A. J. Physiol.1953, 119, 470–488). However, the molecular mechanism of this transdifferentiation process was unknown for a long time. Recent studies demonstrated that Gbx1, a divergent homeobox gene, is one of the target genes of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) for this transdifferentiation. Furthermore, it was found that ATRA can induce the epidermal transdifferentiation into a mucosal epithelium in mammalian embryonic skin, as well as in chick embryonic skin. In the mammalian embryonic skin, the co-expression of Tgm2 and Gbx1 in the epidermis and an increase in TGF-β2 expression elicited by ATRA in the dermis are required for the mucosal transdifferentiation, which occurs through epithelial-mesenchymal interaction. Not only does retinoic acid (RA) play an important role in mucosal transdifferentiation, periderm desquamation, and barrier formation in the developing mammalian skin, but it is also involved in hair follicle downgrowth and bending by its effect on the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and on members of the Runx, Fox, and Sox transcription factor families.
J. Dev. Biol.2014, 2(2), 138-157; doi:10.3390/jdb2020138 - published online 29 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The precise coordination of cell death and cell differentiation during the formation of developing digits is essential for generating properly shaped limbs. Retinoic acid (RA) has a fundamental role in digit development; it promotes or inhibits the molecular expression of several critical genes. This control of gene expression establishes molecular cascades that enable both the commencement of cell death and the inhibition of cell differentiation. In this review, we focus on the antagonistic functions between RA and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling in the control of cell death and between RA and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling in the control of cell differentiation.
J. Dev. Biol.2014, 2(2), 117-137; doi:10.3390/jdb2020117 - published online 23 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The discovery of stem and progenitor cells in the adult mammalian heart has added a vital dimension to the field of cardiac regeneration. Cardiac-resident stem cells are likely sequestered as reserve cells within myocardial niches during the course of embryonic cardiogenesis, although they may also be recruited from external sources, such as bone marrow. As we begin to understand the nature of cardiac-resident stem and progenitor cells using a variety of approaches, it is evident that they possess an identity embedded within their gene regulatory networks that favours cardiovascular lineage potential. In addition to contributing lineage descendants, cardiac stem cells may also be stress sensors, offering trophic cues to other cell types, including cardiomyocytes and vasculature cells, and likely other stem cells and immune cells, during adaptation and repair. This presents numerous possibilities for endogenous cardiac stem and progenitor cells to be used in cell therapies or as targets in heart rejuvenation. In this review, we focus on the epicardium as an endogenous source of multi-potential mesenchymal progenitor cells in development and as a latent source of such progenitors in the adult. We track the origin and plasticity of the epicardium in embryos and adults in both homeostasis and disease. In this context, we ask whether directed activation of epicardium-derived progenitor cells might have therapeutic application.
J. Dev. Biol.2014, 2(2), 101-116; doi:10.3390/jdb2020101 - published online 11 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The epicardium is the mesothelial outer layer of the vertebrate heart. It plays an important role during cardiac development by, among other functions, nourishing the underlying myocardium, contributing to cardiac fibroblasts and giving rise to the coronary vasculature. The epicardium also exerts key functions during injury responses in the adult and contributes to cardiac repair. In this article, we review current knowledge on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying epicardium formation in the zebrafish, a teleost fish, which is rapidly gaining status as an animal model in cardiovascular research, and compare it with the mechanisms described in other vertebrate models. We moreover describe the expression patterns of a subset of available zebrafish Wilms’ tumor 1 transgenic reporter lines and discuss their specificity, applicability and limitations in the study of epicardium formation.
J. Dev. Biol.2014, 2(2), 84-100; doi:10.3390/jdb2020084 - published online 10 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the last decade, cell replacement therapy has emerged as a potential approach to treat patients suffering from myocardial infarction (MI). The transplantation or local stimulation of progenitor cells with the ability to form new cardiac tissue provides a novel strategy to overcome the massive loss of myocardium after MI. In this regard the epicardium, the outer layer of the heart, is a tractable local progenitor cell population for therapeutic pursuit. The epicardium has a crucial role in formation of the embryonic heart. After activation and migration into the developing myocardium, epicardial cells differentiate into several cardiac cells types. Additionally, the epicardium provides instructive signals for the growth of the myocardium and coronary angiogenesis. In the adult heart, the epicardium is quiescent, but recent evidence suggests that it becomes reactivated upon damage and recapitulates at least part of its embryonic functions. In this review we provide an update on the current knowledge regarding the contribution of epicardial cells to the adult mammalian heart during the injury response.