Open AccessReview
Perspectives on Intra- and Intercellular Trafficking of Hedgehog for Tissue Patterning
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(4), 34; doi:10.3390/jdb4040034 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Intercellular communication is a fundamental process for correct tissue development. The mechanism of this process involves, among other things, the production and secretion of signaling molecules by specialized cell types and the capability of these signals to reach the target cells in order
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Intercellular communication is a fundamental process for correct tissue development. The mechanism of this process involves, among other things, the production and secretion of signaling molecules by specialized cell types and the capability of these signals to reach the target cells in order to trigger specific responses. Hedgehog (Hh) is one of the best-studied signaling pathways because of its importance during morphogenesis in many organisms. The Hh protein acts as a morphogen, activating its targets at a distance in a concentration-dependent manner. Post-translational modifications of Hh lead to a molecule covalently bond to two lipid moieties. These lipid modifications confer Hh high affinity to lipidic membranes, and intense studies have been carried out to explain its release into the extracellular matrix. This work reviews Hh molecule maturation, the intracellular recycling needed for its secretion and the proposed carriers to explain Hh transportation to the receiving cells. Special focus is placed on the role of specialized filopodia, also named cytonemes, in morphogen transport and gradient formation. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Yeast Gup1(2) Proteins Are Homologues of the Hedgehog Morphogens Acyltransferases HHAT(L): Facts and Implications
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(4), 33; doi:10.3390/jdb4040033 -
Abstract
In multiple tissues, the Hedgehog secreted morphogen activates in the receiving cells a pathway involved in cell fate, proliferation and differentiation in the receiving cells. This pathway is particularly important during embryogenesis. The protein HHAT (Hedgehog O-acyltransferase) modifies Hh morphogens prior to
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In multiple tissues, the Hedgehog secreted morphogen activates in the receiving cells a pathway involved in cell fate, proliferation and differentiation in the receiving cells. This pathway is particularly important during embryogenesis. The protein HHAT (Hedgehog O-acyltransferase) modifies Hh morphogens prior to their secretion, while HHATL (Hh O-acyltransferase-like) negatively regulates the pathway. HHAT and HHATL are homologous to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Gup2 and Gup1, respectively. In yeast, Gup1 is associated with a high number and diversity of biological functions, namely polarity establishment, secretory/endocytic pathway functionality, vacuole morphology and wall and membrane composition, structure and maintenance. Phenotypes underlying death, morphogenesis and differentiation are also included. Paracrine signalling, like the one promoted by the Hh pathway, has not been shown to occur in microbial communities, despite the fact that large aggregates of cells like biofilms or colonies behave as proto-tissues. Instead, these have been suggested to sense the population density through the secretion of quorum-sensing chemicals. This review focuses on Gup1/HHATL and Gup2/HHAT proteins. We review the functions and physiology associated with these proteins in yeasts and higher eukaryotes. We suggest standardisation of the presently chaotic Gup-related nomenclature, which includes KIAA117, c3orf3, RASP, Skinny, Sightless and Central Missing, in order to avoid the disclosure of otherwise unnoticed information. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Asxl2−/− Mice Exhibit De Novo Cardiomyocyte Production during Adulthood
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(4), 32; doi:10.3390/jdb4040032 -
Abstract
Heart attacks affect more than seven million people worldwide each year. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, may result in the death of a billion cardiomyocytes within hours. The adult mammalian heart does not have an effective mechanism to replace lost cardiomyocytes. Instead,
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Heart attacks affect more than seven million people worldwide each year. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, may result in the death of a billion cardiomyocytes within hours. The adult mammalian heart does not have an effective mechanism to replace lost cardiomyocytes. Instead, lost muscle is replaced with scar tissue, which decreases blood pumping ability and leads to heart failure over time. Here, we report that the loss of the chromatin factor ASXL2 results in spontaneous proliferation and cardiogenic differentiation of a subset of interstitial non-cardiomyocytes. The adult Asxl2−/− heart displays spontaneous overgrowth without cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Thymidine analog labeling and Ki67 staining of 12-week-old hearts revealed 3- and 5-fold increases of proliferation rate for vimentin+ non-cardiomyocytes in Asxl2−/− over age- and sex-matched wildtype controls, respectively. Approximately 10% of proliferating non-cardiomyocytes in the Asxl2−/− heart express the cardiogenic marker NKX2-5, a frequency that is ~7-fold higher than that observed in the wildtype. EdU lineage tracing experiments showed that ~6% of pulsed-labeled non-cardiomyocytes in Asxl2−/− hearts differentiate into mature cardiomyocytes after a four-week chase, a phenomenon not observed for similarly pulse-chased wildtype controls. Taken together, these data indicate de novo cardiomyocyte production in the Asxl2−/− heart due to activation of a population of proliferative cardiogenic non-cardiomyocytes. Our study suggests the existence of an epigenetic barrier to cardiogenicity in the adult heart and raises the intriguing possibility of unlocking regenerative potential via transient modulation of epigenetic activity. Full article
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Open AccessReview
An Evolutionarily Conserved Network Mediates Development of the zona limitans intrathalamica, a Sonic Hedgehog-Secreting Caudal Forebrain Signaling Center
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(4), 31; doi:10.3390/jdb4040031 -
Abstract
Recent studies revealed new insights into the development of a unique caudal forebrain-signaling center: the zona limitans intrathalamica (zli). The zli is the last brain signaling center to form and the first forebrain compartment to be established. It is the only
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Recent studies revealed new insights into the development of a unique caudal forebrain-signaling center: the zona limitans intrathalamica (zli). The zli is the last brain signaling center to form and the first forebrain compartment to be established. It is the only part of the dorsal neural tube expressing the morphogen Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) whose activity participates in the survival, growth and patterning of neuronal progenitor subpopulations within the thalamic complex. Here, we review the gene regulatory network of transcription factors and cis-regulatory elements that underlies formation of a shh-expressing delimitated domain in the anterior brain. We discuss evidence that this network predates the origin of chordates. We highlight the contribution of Shh, Wnt and Notch signaling to zli development and discuss implications for the fact that the morphogen Shh relies on primary cilia for signal transduction. The network that underlies zli development also contributes to thalamus induction, and to its patterning once the zli has been set up. We present an overview of the brain malformations possibly associated with developmental defects in this gene regulatory network (GRN). Full article
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Open AccessReview
Hedgehog Signaling in Prostate Development, Regeneration and Cancer
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(4), 30; doi:10.3390/jdb4040030 -
Abstract
The prostate is a developmental model system study of prostate growth regulation. Historically the research focus was on androgen regulation of development and growth and instructive interactions between the mesenchyme and epithelium. The study of Hh signaling in prostate development revealed important roles
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The prostate is a developmental model system study of prostate growth regulation. Historically the research focus was on androgen regulation of development and growth and instructive interactions between the mesenchyme and epithelium. The study of Hh signaling in prostate development revealed important roles in ductal morphogenesis and in epithelial growth regulation that appear to be recapitulated in prostate cancer. This overview of Hh signaling in the prostate will address the well-described role of paracrine signaling prostate development as well as new evidence suggesting a role for autocrine signaling, the role of Hh signaling in prostate regeneration and reiterative activities in prostate cancer. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Loss of Suppressor of Fused in Mid-Corticogenesis Leads to the Expansion of Intermediate Progenitors
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(4), 29; doi:10.3390/jdb4040029 -
Abstract
Neural progenitors in the embryonic neocortex must be tightly regulated in order to generate the correct number and projection neuron subtypes necessary for the formation of functional neocortical circuits. In this study, we show that the intracellular protein Suppressor of Fused (Sufu) regulates
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Neural progenitors in the embryonic neocortex must be tightly regulated in order to generate the correct number and projection neuron subtypes necessary for the formation of functional neocortical circuits. In this study, we show that the intracellular protein Suppressor of Fused (Sufu) regulates the proliferation of intermediate progenitor (IP) cells at later stages of corticogenesis to affect the number of Cux1+ upper layer neurons in the postnatal neocortex. This correlates with abnormal levels of the repressor form of Gli3 (Gli3R) and the ectopic expression of Patched 1 (Ptch1), a Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) target gene. These studies reveal that the canonical role of Sufu as an inhibitor of Shh signaling is conserved at later stages of corticogenesis and that Sufu plays a crucial role in regulating neuronal number by controlling the cell cycle dynamics of IP cells in the embryonic neocortex. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Hedgehog: A Key Signaling in the Development of the Oligodendrocyte Lineage
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 28; doi:10.3390/jdb4030028 -
Abstract
The Hedgehog morphogen aroused an enormous interest since it was characterized as an essential signal for ventral patterning of the spinal cord two decades ago. The pathway is notably implicated in the initial appearance of the progenitors of oligodendrocytes (OPCs), the glial cells
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The Hedgehog morphogen aroused an enormous interest since it was characterized as an essential signal for ventral patterning of the spinal cord two decades ago. The pathway is notably implicated in the initial appearance of the progenitors of oligodendrocytes (OPCs), the glial cells of the central nervous system which after maturation are responsible for axon myelination. In accordance with the requirement for Hedgehog signaling in ventral patterning, the earliest identifiable cells in the oligodendrocyte lineage are derived from the ventral ventricular zone of the developing spinal cord and brain. Here, we present the current knowledge about the involvement of Hedgehog signaling in the strict spatial and temporal regulation which characterizes the initiation and progression of the oligodendrocyte lineage. We notably describe the ability of the Hedgehog signaling to tightly orchestrate the appearance of specific combinations of genes in concert with other pathways. We document the molecular mechanisms controlling Hedgehog temporal activity during OPC specification. The contribution of the pathway to aspects of OPC development different from their specification is also highlighted especially in the optic nerve. Finally, we report the data demonstrating that Hedgehog signaling-dependency is not a universal situation for oligodendrocyte generation as evidenced in the dorsal spinal cord in contrast to the dorsal forebrain. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Control of Hedgehog Signalling by the Cilia-Regulated Proteasome
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 27; doi:10.3390/jdb4030027 -
Abstract
The Hedgehog signalling pathway is evolutionarily highly conserved and essential for embryonic development of invertebrates and vertebrates. Consequently, impaired Hedgehog signalling results in very severe human diseases, ranging from holoprosencephaly to Pallister-Hall syndrome. Due to this great importance for human health, the focus
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The Hedgehog signalling pathway is evolutionarily highly conserved and essential for embryonic development of invertebrates and vertebrates. Consequently, impaired Hedgehog signalling results in very severe human diseases, ranging from holoprosencephaly to Pallister-Hall syndrome. Due to this great importance for human health, the focus of numerous research groups is placed on the investigation of the detailed mechanisms underlying Hedgehog signalling. Today, it is known that tiny cell protrusions, known as primary cilia, are necessary to mediate Hedgehog signalling in vertebrates. Although the Hedgehog pathway is one of the best studied signalling pathways, many questions remain. One of these questions is: How do primary cilia control Hedgehog signalling in vertebrates? Recently, it was shown that primary cilia regulate a special kind of proteasome which is essential for proper Hedgehog signalling. This review article will cover this novel cilia-proteasome association in embryonic Hedgehog signalling and discuss the possibilities provided by future investigations on this topic. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Joint Less Ordinary: Intriguing Roles for Hedgehog Signalling in the Development of the Temporomandibular Synovial Joint
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 25; doi:10.3390/jdb4030025 -
Abstract
This review highlights the essential role of Hedgehog (Hh) signalling in the developmental steps of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) formation. We review evidence for intra- and potentially inter-tissue Hh signaling as well as Glioma-Associated Oncogene Homolog (GLI) dependent and independent functions. Morphogenesis and maturation
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This review highlights the essential role of Hedgehog (Hh) signalling in the developmental steps of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) formation. We review evidence for intra- and potentially inter-tissue Hh signaling as well as Glioma-Associated Oncogene Homolog (GLI) dependent and independent functions. Morphogenesis and maturation of the TMJ’s individual components and the general landscape of Hh signalling is also covered. Comparison of the appendicular knee and axial TMJ also reveals interesting differences and similarities in their mechanisms of development, chondrogenesis and reliance on Hh signalling. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Hedgehog Promotes Production of Inhibitory Interneurons in Vivo and in Vitro from Pluripotent Stem Cells
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 26; doi:10.3390/jdb4030026 -
Abstract
Loss or damage of cortical inhibitory interneurons characterizes a number of neurological disorders. There is therefore a great deal of interest in learning how to generate these neurons from a pluripotent stem cell source so they can be used for cell replacement therapies
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Loss or damage of cortical inhibitory interneurons characterizes a number of neurological disorders. There is therefore a great deal of interest in learning how to generate these neurons from a pluripotent stem cell source so they can be used for cell replacement therapies or for in vitro drug testing. To design a directed differentiation protocol, a number of groups have used the information gained in the last 15 years detailing the conditions that promote interneuron progenitor differentiation in the ventral telencephalon during embryogenesis. The use of Hedgehog peptides and agonists is featured prominently in these approaches. We review here the data documenting a role for Hedgehog in specifying interneurons in both the embryonic brain during development and in vitro during the directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Role of Sonic Hedgehog in Craniofacial Patterning, Morphogenesis and Cranial Neural Crest Survival
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 24; doi:10.3390/jdb4030024 -
Abstract
Craniofacial defects (CFD) are a significant healthcare problem worldwide. Understanding both the morphogenetic movements which underpin normal facial development, as well as the molecular factors which regulate these processes, forms the cornerstone of future diagnostic, and ultimately, preventative therapies. The soluble morphogen Sonic
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Craniofacial defects (CFD) are a significant healthcare problem worldwide. Understanding both the morphogenetic movements which underpin normal facial development, as well as the molecular factors which regulate these processes, forms the cornerstone of future diagnostic, and ultimately, preventative therapies. The soluble morphogen Sonic hedgehog (Shh), a vertebrate orthologue of Drosophila hedgehog, is a key signalling factor in the regulation of craniofacial skeleton development in vertebrates, operating within numerous tissue types in the craniofacial primordia to spatiotemporally regulate the formation of the face and jaws. This review will provide an overview of normal craniofacial skeleton development, and focus specifically on the known roles of Shh in regulating the development and progression of the first pharyngeal arch, which in turn gives rise to both the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). Full article
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Open AccessReview
Regulation of Hedgehog Signalling Inside and Outside the Cell
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 23; doi:10.3390/jdb4030023 -
Abstract
The hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway is conserved throughout metazoans and plays an important regulatory role in both embryonic development and adult homeostasis. Many levels of regulation exist that control the release, reception, and interpretation of the hedgehog signal. The fatty nature of the
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The hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway is conserved throughout metazoans and plays an important regulatory role in both embryonic development and adult homeostasis. Many levels of regulation exist that control the release, reception, and interpretation of the hedgehog signal. The fatty nature of the Shh ligand means that it tends to associate tightly with the cell membrane, and yet it is known to act as a morphogen that diffuses to elicit pattern formation. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) play a major role in the regulation of Hh distribution outside the cell. Inside the cell, the primary cilium provides an important hub for processing the Hh signal in vertebrates. This review will summarise the current understanding of how the Hh pathway is regulated from ligand production, release, and diffusion, through to signal reception and intracellular transduction. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Hedgehog Signalling in the Embryonic Mouse Thymus
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(3), 22; doi:10.3390/jdb4030022 -
Abstract
T cells develop in the thymus, which provides an essential environment for T cell fate specification, and for the differentiation of multipotent progenitor cells into major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted, non-autoreactive T cells. Here we review the role of the Hedgehog signalling pathway in
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T cells develop in the thymus, which provides an essential environment for T cell fate specification, and for the differentiation of multipotent progenitor cells into major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted, non-autoreactive T cells. Here we review the role of the Hedgehog signalling pathway in T cell development, thymic epithelial cell (TEC) development, and thymocyte–TEC cross-talk in the embryonic mouse thymus during the last week of gestation. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Signalling by Transforming Growth Factor Beta Isoforms in Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 21; doi:10.3390/jdb4020021 -
Abstract
Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signalling is essential for wound healing, including both non-specific scar formation and tissue-specific regeneration. Specific TGFβ isoforms and downstream mediators of canonical and non-canonical signalling play different roles in each of these processes. Here we review the role
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Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signalling is essential for wound healing, including both non-specific scar formation and tissue-specific regeneration. Specific TGFβ isoforms and downstream mediators of canonical and non-canonical signalling play different roles in each of these processes. Here we review the role of TGFβ signalling during tissue repair, with a particular focus on the prototypic isoforms TGFβ1, TGFβ2, and TGFβ3. We begin by introducing TGFβ signalling and then discuss the role of these growth factors and their key downstream signalling mediators in determining the balance between scar formation and tissue regeneration. Next we discuss examples of the pleiotropic roles of TGFβ ligands during cutaneous wound healing and blastema-mediated regeneration, and how inhibition of the canonical signalling pathway (using small molecule inhibitors) blocks regeneration. Finally, we review various TGFβ-targeting therapeutic strategies that hold promise for enhancing tissue repair. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Hedgehog Signaling in Endochondral Ossification
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 20; doi:10.3390/jdb4020020 -
Abstract
Hedgehog (Hh) signaling plays crucial roles in the patterning and morphogenesis of various organs within the bodies of vertebrates and insects. Endochondral ossification is one of the notable developmental events in which Hh signaling acts as a master regulator. Among three Hh proteins
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Hedgehog (Hh) signaling plays crucial roles in the patterning and morphogenesis of various organs within the bodies of vertebrates and insects. Endochondral ossification is one of the notable developmental events in which Hh signaling acts as a master regulator. Among three Hh proteins in mammals, Indian hedgehog (Ihh) is known to work as a major Hh input that induces biological impact of Hh signaling on the endochondral ossification. Ihh is expressed in prehypertrophic and hypertrophic chondrocytes of developing endochondral bones. Genetic studies so far have demonstrated that the Ihh-mediated activation of Hh signaling synchronizes chondrogenesis and osteogenesis during endochondral ossification by regulating the following processes: (1) chondrocyte differentiation; (2) chondrocyte proliferation; and (3) specification of bone-forming osteoblasts. Ihh not only forms a negative feedback loop with parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) to maintain the growth plate length, but also directly promotes chondrocyte propagation. Ihh input is required for the specification of progenitors into osteoblast precursors. The combinatorial approaches of genome-wide analyses and mouse genetics will facilitate understanding of the regulatory mechanisms underlying the roles of Hh signaling in endochondral ossification, providing genome-level evidence of the potential of Hh signaling for the treatment of skeletal disorders. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Regulation of Silk Genes by Hox and Homeodomain Proteins in the Terminal Differentiated Silk Gland of the Silkworm Bombyx mori
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 19; doi:10.3390/jdb4020019 -
Abstract
The silk gland of the silkworm Bombyx mori is a long tubular organ that is divided into several subparts along its anteroposterior (AP) axis. As a trait of terminal differentiation of the silk gland, several silk protein genes are expressed with unique regional
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The silk gland of the silkworm Bombyx mori is a long tubular organ that is divided into several subparts along its anteroposterior (AP) axis. As a trait of terminal differentiation of the silk gland, several silk protein genes are expressed with unique regional specificities. Most of the Hox and some of the homeobox genes are also expressed in the differentiated silk gland with regional specificities. The expression patterns of Hox genes in the silk gland roughly correspond to those in embryogenesis showing “colinearity”. The central Hox class protein Antennapedia (Antp) directly regulates the expression of several middle silk gland–specific silk genes, whereas the Lin-1/Isl-1/Mec3 (LIM)-homeodomain transcriptional factor Arrowhead (Awh) regulates the expression of posterior silk gland–specific genes for silk fiber proteins. We summarize our results and discuss the usefulness of the silk gland of Bombyx mori for analyzing the function of Hox genes. Further analyses of the regulatory mechanisms underlying the region-specific expression of silk genes will provide novel insights into the molecular bases for target-gene selection and regulation by Hox and homeodomain proteins. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Nutrient-Deprived Retinal Progenitors Proliferate in Response to Hypoxia: Interaction of the HIF-1 and mTOR Pathway
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 17; doi:10.3390/jdb4020017 -
Abstract
At a cellular level, nutrients are sensed by the mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR). The response of cells to hypoxia is regulated via action of the oxygen sensor Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1). During development, injury and disease, tissues might face conditions of both
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At a cellular level, nutrients are sensed by the mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR). The response of cells to hypoxia is regulated via action of the oxygen sensor Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1). During development, injury and disease, tissues might face conditions of both low nutrient supply and low oxygen, yet it is not clear how cells adapt to both nutrient restriction and hypoxia, or how mTOR and HIF-1 interact in such conditions. Here we explore this question in vivo with respect to cell proliferation using the ciliary marginal zone (CMZ) of Xenopus. We found that both nutrient-deprivation and hypoxia cause retinal progenitors to decrease their proliferation, yet when nutrient-deprived progenitors are exposed to hypoxia there is an unexpected rise in cell proliferation. This increase, mediated by HIF-1 signalling, is dependent on glutaminolysis and reactivation of the mTOR pathway. We discuss how these findings in non-transformed tissue may also shed light on the ability of cancer cells in poorly vascularised solid tumours to proliferate. Full article
Open AccessReview
Developmental Mechanism of Limb Field Specification along the Anterior–Posterior Axis during Vertebrate Evolution
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 18; doi:10.3390/jdb4020018 -
Abstract
In gnathostomes, limb buds arise from the lateral plate mesoderm at discrete positions along the body axis. Specification of these limb-forming fields can be subdivided into several steps. The lateral plate mesoderm is regionalized into the anterior lateral plate mesoderm (ALPM; cardiac mesoderm)
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In gnathostomes, limb buds arise from the lateral plate mesoderm at discrete positions along the body axis. Specification of these limb-forming fields can be subdivided into several steps. The lateral plate mesoderm is regionalized into the anterior lateral plate mesoderm (ALPM; cardiac mesoderm) and the posterior lateral plate mesoderm (PLPM). Subsequently, Hox genes appear in a nested fashion in the PLPM and provide positional information along the body axis. The lateral plate mesoderm then splits into the somatic and splanchnic layers. In the somatic layer of the PLPM, the expression of limb initiation genes appears in the limb-forming region, leading to limb bud initiation. Furthermore, past and current work in limbless amphioxus and lampreys suggests that evolutionary changes in developmental programs occurred during the acquisition of paired fins during vertebrate evolution. This review presents these recent advances and discusses the mechanisms of limb field specification during development and evolution, with a focus on the role of Hox genes in this process. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Mechanisms of Specificity for Hox Factor Activity
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 16; doi:10.3390/jdb4020016 -
Abstract
Metazoans encode clusters of paralogous Hox genes that are critical for proper development of the body plan. However, there are a number of unresolved issues regarding how paralogous Hox factors achieve specificity to control distinct cell fates. First, how do Hox paralogs, which
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Metazoans encode clusters of paralogous Hox genes that are critical for proper development of the body plan. However, there are a number of unresolved issues regarding how paralogous Hox factors achieve specificity to control distinct cell fates. First, how do Hox paralogs, which have very similar DNA binding preferences in vitro, drive different transcriptional programs in vivo? Second, the number of potential Hox binding sites within the genome is vast compared to the number of sites bound. Hence, what determines where in the genome Hox factors bind? Third, what determines whether a Hox factor will activate or repress a specific target gene? Here, we review the current evidence that is beginning to shed light onto these questions. In particular, we highlight how cooperative interactions with other transcription factors (especially PBC and HMP proteins) and the sequences of cis-regulatory modules provide a basis for the mechanisms of Hox specificity. We conclude by integrating a number of the concepts described throughout the review in a case study of a highly interrogated Drosophila cis-regulatory module named “The Distal-less Conserved Regulatory Element” (DCRE). Full article
Open AccessArticle
Functional and Comparative Genomics of Hoxa2 Gene cis-Regulatory Elements: Evidence for Evolutionary Modification of Ancestral Core Element Activity
J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 4(2), 15; doi:10.3390/jdb4020015 -
Abstract
Hoxa2 is an evolutionarily conserved developmental regulatory gene that functions to specify rhombomere (r) and pharyngeal arch (PA) identities throughout the Osteichthyes. Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) hoxa2a, like orthologous Hoxa2 genes from other osteichthyans, is expressed during embryogenesis in r2–7 and
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Hoxa2 is an evolutionarily conserved developmental regulatory gene that functions to specify rhombomere (r) and pharyngeal arch (PA) identities throughout the Osteichthyes. Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) hoxa2a, like orthologous Hoxa2 genes from other osteichthyans, is expressed during embryogenesis in r2–7 and PA2-7, whereas the paralogous medaka pseudogene, ψhoxa2b, is expressed in noncanonical Hoxa2 domains, including the pectoral fin buds. To understand the evolution of cis-regulatory element (CRE) control of gene expression, we conducted eGFP reporter gene expression studies with extensive functional mapping of several conserved CREs upstream of medaka hoxa2a and ψhoxa2b in transient and stable-line transgenic medaka embryos. The CREs tested were previously shown to contribute to directing mouse Hoxa2 gene expression in r3, r5, and PA2-4. Our results reveal the presence of sequence elements embedded in the medaka hoxa2a and ψhoxa2b upstream enhancer regions (UERs) that mediate expression in r4 and the PAs (hoxa2a r4/CNCC element) or in r3–7 and the PAs ψhoxa2b r3–7/CNCC element), respectively. Further, these elements were shown to be highly conserved among osteichthyans, which suggests that the r4 specifying element embedded in the UER of Hoxa2 is a deeply rooted rhombomere specifying element and the activity of this element has been modified by the evolution of flanking sequences that redirect its activity to alternative developmental compartments. Full article