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in category developmental biology
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1,796 downloads developmental biology
The transition of gonocytes to spermatogonia and subsequent differentiation provide the foundation of spermatogenesis. However, systematic understanding on the cellular and molecular basis of this process is still limited, mainly impeded by the asynchrony in development and the lack of stage-specific markers. Using single-cell RNA sequencing on Oct4-GFP+/KIT- cells isolated from PND5.5 mice, we dissected the cellular heterogeneity and established molecular regulations. We demonstrated that gonocyte-spermatogonial transition was characterized by gene expression change related to apoptosis, cell cycle progression, and regulation of migration processes. Pseudotime analysis reconstructed developmental dynamics of the spermatogonial populations and unraveled sequential cellular and molecular transitions. We also identified CD87 as a neonatal stem cell marker which are potentially involved in the intial establishment of SSC pool. Lastly, we uncovered an unexpected subpopulation of spermatogonia primed to differentiation within the undifferentiated compartment, which is characterized by the lack of self-renewal genes and enhanced Oct4 expression and retinoic acid signaling response. Our study thus provides a novel understanding of cellular and molecular changes during spermatogonial establishment.
1,775 downloads developmental biology
Breaking the anterior-posterior (AP) symmetry in mammals takes place at gastrulation. Much of the signaling network underlying this process has been elucidated in the mouse, however there is no direct molecular evidence of events driving axis formation in humans. Here, we use human embryonic stem cells to generate an in vitro 3D model of a human epiblast whose size, cell polarity, and gene expression are similar to a 10-day human epiblast. A defined dose of bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) spontaneously breaks axial symmetry, and induces markers of the primitive streak and epithelial to mesenchymal transition. By gene knockouts and live-cell imaging we show that, downstream of BMP4, WNT3 and its inhibitor DKK1 play key roles in this process. Our work demonstrates that a model human epiblast can break axial symmetry despite no asymmetry in the initial signal and in the absence of extraembryonic tissues or maternal cues. Our 3D model opens routes to capturing molecular events underlying axial symmetry breaking phenomena, which have largely been unexplored in model human systems.
1,767 downloads developmental biology
Hundreds of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been identified as potential regulators of gene expression, but their functions remain largely unknown. To study the role of lncRNAs during vertebrate development, we selected 25 zebrafish lncRNAs based on their conservation, expression profile or proximity to developmental regulators, and used CRISPR-Cas9 to generate 32 deletion alleles. We observed altered transcription of neighboring genes in some mutants, but none of the lncRNAs were required for embryogenesis, viability or fertility. Even RNAs with previously proposed non-coding functions (cyrano and squint) and other conserved lncRNAs (gas5 and lnc-setd1ba) were dispensable. In one case (lnc-phox2bb), absence of putative DNA regulatory-elements, but not of the lncRNA transcript itself, resulted in abnormal development. LncRNAs might have redundant, subtle, or context-dependent roles, but extrapolation from our results suggests that the majority of individual zebrafish lncRNAs are dispensable for embryogenesis, viability and fertility.
1,761 downloads developmental biology
Dissociated mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells were cultured to form aggregates in small volumes of basal medium in U-bottomed, non tissue-culture-treated 96-well plates and subsequently maintained in suspension culture. After growth for 48 hours, the aggregates are competent to respond to ubiquitous experimental signals which result in their symmetry-breaking and generation of defined polarised structures by 96 hours. It is envisaged that this system can be applied both to the study of early developmental events and more broadly to the processes of self-organisation and cellular decision-making. It may also provide a suitable niche for the generation of cell types present in the embryo but unobtainable from conventional adherent culture.
1,723 downloads developmental biology
Single-cell RNA-seq experiments cannot record cell division history and therefore cannot directly connect intercellular differences at a later developmental stage to their progenitor cells. We developed Rainbow-seq to combine cell division lineage tracing with single-cell RNA-seq. With distinct fluorescent protein genes as lineage markers, Rainbow-seq enables each single-cell RNA-seq experiment to simultaneously read single-cell transcriptomes and decode the lineage marker genes. We traced the lineages deriving from each blastomere in two-cell mouse embryos and observed inequivalent contributions to the embryonic and abembryonic poles in 72% of the blastocysts evaluated. Rainbow-seq on four- and eight-cell embryos with lineage tracing triggered at two-cell stage exhibited remarkable transcriptome-wide differences between the two cell lineages at both stages, including genes involved in negative regulation of transcription and signaling. These data provide critical insights on cell fate choices in cleavage embryos. Rainbow-seq bridged a critical gap between cellular division history and single-cell RNA-seq assays.
1,694 downloads developmental biology
Pancreatic β cells undergo significant expansion and maturation during human and rodent postnatal development. Here, we used single-cell RNA-seq to characterize gene expression patterns at various stages of mouse islet cell development and uncovered a population of cells that is most abundant during the early postnatal period. This cell population lacks expression of FLTP and expresses PDGF receptors. Each of these conditions have previously been associated with proliferative capacity in β cells suggesting that we have identified the proliferative competent of β cell mass expansion. The subpopulation co-express many endocrine lineage-specific genes and exhibits a downregulation of genes associated with mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and global protein synthesis. It has upregulated activity of genes in the Wnt, Hippo, PDGF, and Notch pathways and has a significantly higher proliferation potential than the more mature β population. We show that activity of the Notch pathway is required in postnatal β cell expansion where it serves to maintain an undifferentiated endocrine state in the polyhormonal cell population. Collectively, our study identifies a proliferative, progenitor-like cell subpopulation in the postnatal islet as the source of postnatal β cell expansion.
1,679 downloads developmental biology
In embryonic development, cells must differentiate through stereotypical sequences of intermediate states to generate mature states of a particular fate. By contrast, direct programming can generate similar fates through alternative routes, by directly expressing terminal transcription factors. Yet the cell state transitions defining these new routes are unclear. We applied single-cell RNA sequencing to compare two mouse motor neuron differentiation protocols: a standard protocol approximating the embryonic lineage, and a direct programming method. Both undergo similar early neural commitment. Then, rather than transitioning through spinal intermediates like the standard protocol, the direct programming path diverges into a novel transitional state. This state has specific and abnormal gene expression. It opens a ‘loop’ or ‘worm hole’ in gene expression that converges separately onto the final motor neuron state of the standard path. Despite their different developmental histories, motor neurons from both protocols structurally, functionally, and transcriptionally resemble motor neurons from embryos.
1,646 downloads developmental biology
Asaf Zviran, Nofar Mor, Yoach Rais, Hila Gingold, Shani Peles, Elad Chomsky, Sergey Viukov, Jason D Buenrostro, Leehee Weinberger, Yair S. Manor, Vladislav Krupalnik, Mirie Zerbib, Hadas Hezroni, Diego Adhemar Jaitin, David Larastiaso, Shlomit Gilad, Sima Benjamin, Awni Mousa, Muneef Ayyash, Daoud Sheban, Jonathan Bayerl, Alejandro Aguilera Castrejon, Rada Massarwa, Itay Maza, Suhair Hanna, Ido Amit, Yonatan Stelzer, Igor Ulitsky, William J. Greenleaf, Yitzhak Pilpel, Noa Novershtern, Jacob H Hanna
The ability to reprogram somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with four transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and cMyc (abbreviated as OSKM) has provoked interest to define the molecular characteristics of the process. Despite important progress, the dynamics of epigenetic reprogramming at high resolution in correctly reprogrammed iPSCs and throughout the entire process remain largely undefined. This gap in understanding results from the inefficiency of conventional reprogramming methods coupled with the difficulty of prospectively isolating the rare cells that eventually correctly reprogram into iPSCs. Here we characterize cell fate conversion from fibroblast to iPSC using a highly efficient deterministic murine reprogramming system engineered through optimized inhibition of Gatad2a-Mbd3/NuRD repressive sub-complex. This comprehensive characterization provides single-day resolution of dynamic changes in levels of gene expression, chromatin modifications, TF binding, DNA accessibility and DNA methylation. The integrative analysis identified two transcriptional modules that dominate successful reprogramming. One consists of genes whose transcription is regulated by on/off epigenetic switching of modifications in their promoters (abbreviated as ESPGs), and the second consists of genes with promoters in a constitutively active chromatin state, but a dynamic expression pattern (abbreviated as CAPGs). ESPGs are mainly regulated by OSK, rather than Myc, and are enriched for cell fate determinants and pluripotency factors. CAPGs are predominantly regulated by Myc, and are enriched for cell biosynthetic regulatory functions. We used the ESPG module to study the identity and temporal occurrence of activating and repressing epigenetic switching during reprogramming. Removal of repressive chromatin modifications precedes chromatin opening and binding of RNA polymerase II at enhancers and promoters, and the opposite dynamics occur during repression of enhancers and promoters. Genome wide DNA methylation analysis demonstrated that de novo DNA methylation is not required for highly efficient conducive iPSC reprogramming, and identified a group of super-enhancers targeted by OSK, whose early demethylation marks commitment to a successful reprogramming trajectory also in inefficient conventional reprogramming systems. CAPGs are distinctively regulated by multiple synergetic ways: 1) Myc activity, delivered either endogenously or exogenously, dominates CAPG expression changes and is indispensable for induction of pluripotency in somatic cells; 2) A change in tRNA codon usage which is specific to CAPGs, but not ESPGs, and favors their translation. In summary, our unbiased high-resolution mapping of epigenetic changes on somatic cells that are committed to undergo successful reprogramming reveals interleaved epigenetic and biosynthetic reconfigurations that rapidly commission and propel conducive reprogramming toward naive pluripotency.
1,624 downloads developmental biology
In mammals, the adrenal gland, testis and ovary arise from a common progenitor tissue known as the urogenital ridge (UGR). This small population of cells will adopt a number of different cell fates following sex determination, including forming the precursors of somatic cells (such as Sertoli and granulosa cells) and steroidogenic cells. In addition, this tissues also contains the Wolffian and Müllerian ducts that later form components of the reproductive tracts. A potential mechanism to maintain developmental plasticity of the UGR until gonad formation is through the epigenetic modification of histone proteins. In order to provide a resource for future studies, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) for two histone modifications, H3K4me3 and H3K27me3, in the E11.5 mouse UGR. These marks are both known to reflect the active, repressive or a poised chromatin state. We found that enrichment for each histone mark reflected transcriptional activity in precursor cells of the developing gonad. From the analysis of potential enhancer/regulator peak regions for DNA binding motifs, we identified several candidate transcription factors that may contribute to gonadal cell lineage specification. We additionally identified signaling pathway genes that are targeted by both chromatin modifications. Together, these datasets provide a useful resource for investigating gene regulatory networks functioning during UGR development at E11.5.
1,604 downloads developmental biology
Tissue-specific loss-of-function (LOF) analysis is an essential approach for characterizing gene function. Here we describe an efficient CRISPR-mediated tissue-restricted mutagenesis (CRISPR-TRiM) method for ablating gene function in Drosophila. This binary system consists of a tissue-specific Cas9 and a ubiquitously expressed multi-guide RNA (gRNA) transgene. To facilitate the construction of these components, we developed convenient tools for generating and evaluating enhancer-driven Cas9 lines, identified a multi-gRNA design that is highly efficient in mutagenizing somatic cells, and established an assay for testing the efficiency of multi-gRNAs in creating double-stranded breaks. We found that excision of genomic DNA induced by two gRNAs is infrequent in somatic cells, while indels more reliably cause tissue-specific LOF. Furthermore, we show that enhancer-driven Cas9 is less cytotoxic yet results in more complete gene removal than Gal4-driven Cas9 in larval neurons. Finally, we demonstrate that CRISPR-TRiM efficiently unmasks redundant gene functions in neuronal morphogenesis. Importantly, two Cas9 transgenes that turn on with different timings in the neuronal lineage revealed the extent to which gene products persist in cells after tissue-specific gene knockout. These CRISRPR tools can be applied to analyze tissue-specific gene function in many biological processes.
1,583 downloads developmental biology
Brittany L. Daughtry, Jimi L. Rosenkrantz, Nathan H. Lazar, Suzanne S. Fei, Nash Redmayne, Kristof A Torkenczy, Andrew C Adey, Lina Gao, Byung Park, Kimberly A. Nevonen, Lucia Carbone, Shawn L. Chavez
Aneuploidy that arises during meiosis and/or mitosis is a major contributor to early embryo loss. We previously demonstrated that human preimplantation embryos encapsulate mis-segregated chromosomes into micronuclei while undergoing cellular fragmentation and that fragments can contain chromosomal material, but the source of this DNA was unknown. Here, we leveraged the use of a non-human primate model and single-cell DNA-sequencing (scDNA-seq) to examine the chromosomal content of 471 individual samples comprising 254 blastomeres, 42 polar bodies, and 175 cellular fragments from a large number (N=50) of disassembled rhesus cleavage-stage embryos. Our analysis revealed that the frequency of aneuploidy and micronucleation is conserved between humans and macaques and that cellular fragments encapsulate whole and/or partial chromosomes lost from blastomeres. Single-cell/fragment genotyping demonstrated that these chromosome-containing cellular fragments (CCFs) can be either maternal or paternal in origin and display DNA damage via double-stranded breaks. Chromosome breakage and abnormal cytokinesis resulted in reciprocal losses/gains at the terminal ends of chromosome arms, uniparental genome segregation, and mixoploidy between blastomeres. Combining time-lapse imaging with scDNA-seq, we also determined that multipolar divisions at the zygote or 2-cell stage generated chaotic aneuploidy encompassing a complex mixture of maternal and paternal chromosomes. Despite frequent chromosomal mis-segregation at the cleavage-stage, we show that CCFs and non-dividing aneuploid blastomeres exhibiting extensive DNA damage are prevented from incorporation at the blastocyst stage. These findings suggest that embryos respond to chromosomal errors by encapsulation into micronuclei, elimination by cellular fragmentation, and selection against highly aneuploid blastomeres to overcome chromosome instability during preimplantation development.
1,578 downloads developmental biology
Work on genetic model systems such as Drosophila and mouse has shown that the fundamental mechanisms of myogenesis are remarkably similar in vertebrates and invertebrates. Strikingly however, satellite cells, the adult muscle stem cells that are essential for the regeneration of damaged muscles in vertebrates, have not been reported in invertebrates. In this study we show that lineal descendants of muscle stem cells are present in adult muscle of Drosophila as small, unfused cells located superficially and in close proximity to the mature muscle fibers. Normally quiescent, following muscle fiber injury, we show that these cells express Zfh1- cells and engage in Notch-Delta dependent proliferative activity and generate lineal descendant populations, which fuse with the injured muscle fiber. In view of strikingly similar morphological and functional features, we consider these novel cells to be the Drosophila equivalent of vertebrate muscle satellite cells.
1,559 downloads developmental biology
Morgan Oatley, Ozge Vargel Bolukbasi, Valentine Svensson, Maya Shvartsman, Kerstin Ganter, Katharina Zirngibl, Polina V Pavlovich, Vladislava Milchevskaya, Vladimira Foteva, Kedar N Natarajan, Bianka Baying, Vladimir Benes, Kiran Raosaheb Patil, Sarah A Teichmann, Christophe Lancrin
The endothelial to haematopoietic transition (EHT) is the process whereby haemogenic endothelium differentiates into haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). The intermediary steps of this process are unclear, in particular the identity of endothelial cells that give rise to HSPCs is unknown. Using single-cell transcriptome analysis and antibody screening we identified CD44 as a new marker of EHT enabling us to isolate robustly the different stages of EHT in the aorta gonad mesonephros (AGM) region. This allowed us to provide a very detailed phenotypical and transcriptional profile for haemogenic endothelial cells, characterising them with high expression of genes related to Notch signalling, TGFbeta/BMP antagonists (Smad6, Smad7 and Bmper) and a downregulation of genes related to glycolysis and the TCA cycle. Moreover, we demonstrated that by inhibiting the interaction between CD44 and its ligand hyaluronan we could block EHT, identifying a new regulator of HSPC development.
1,558 downloads developmental biology
Predicting developmental outcomes from regulatory DNA sequence and transcription factor patterns remains an open challenge in physical biology. Using stripe 2 of the even-skipped gene in Drosophila embryos as a case study, we dissect the regulatory forces underpinning a key step along the developmental decision-making cascade: the generation of cytoplasmic mRNA patterns via the control of transcription in individual cells. Using live imaging and computational approaches, we found that the transcriptional burst frequency is modulated across the stripe to control the mRNA production rate. However, we discovered that bursting alone cannot quantitatively recapitulate the formation of the stripe, and that control of the window of time over which each nucleus transcribes even-skipped plays a critical role in stripe formation. Theoretical modeling revealed that these two regulatory strategies--bursting and the time window--obey different kinds of regulatory logic, suggesting that the stripe is shaped by the interplay of two distinct underlying molecular processes.
1,549 downloads developmental biology
Alex A Pollen, Aparna Bhaduri, Madeline G Andrews, Tomasz J Nowakowski, Olivia S Meyerson, Mohammed A Mostajo-Radji, Elizabeth Di Lullo, Beatriz Alvarado, Melanie Bedolli, Max L Dougherty, Ian T. Fiddes, Zev N. Kronenberg, Joe Shuga, Anne A Leyrat, Jay A West, Marina Bershteyn, Craig B Lowe, Bryan Pavlovic, Sofie R. Salama, David Haussler, Evan E Eichler, Arnold R Kriegstein
Direct comparisons of human and non-human primate brain tissue have the potential to reveal molecular pathways underlying remarkable specializations of the human brain. However, chimpanzee tissue is largely inaccessible during neocortical neurogenesis when differences in brain size first appear. To identify human-specific features of cortical development, we leveraged recent innovations that permit generating pluripotent stem cell-derived cerebral organoids from chimpanzee. First, we systematically evaluated the fidelity of organoid models to primary human and macaque cortex, finding organoid models preserve gene regulatory networks related to cell types and developmental processes but exhibit increased metabolic stress. Second, we identified 261 genes differentially expressed in human compared to chimpanzee organoids and macaque cortex. Many of these genes overlap with human-specific segmental duplications and a subset suggest increased PI3K/AKT/mTOR activation in human outer radial glia. Together, our findings establish a platform for systematic analysis of molecular changes contributing to human brain development and evolution.
1,539 downloads developmental biology
Size control is fundamental in tissue development and homeostasis. While the role of cell proliferation in this process has been widely studied, the mechanisms of organ size control and how it impacts cell fates remain elusive. Here, we use mouse blastocyst development as a model to unravel a key role of fluid-filled lumen in embryonic size control and cell fate specification. We find that during blastocyst expansion, there is a two-fold increase in the pressure of the lumen that translates into a concomitant increase in the cortical tension of trophectoderm (TE) cells lining the lumen. Increased cortical tension leads to vinculin mechanosensing and maturation of the functional tight junctions, thereby establishing a positive feedback loop to accommodate lumenal growth. However, when the cortical tension reaches a critical threshold, cell-cell adhesion cannot be sustained, and mitotic entry leads to a rupture of TE epithelium, fluid leakage and collapse of the blastocyst cavity. A simple theory of hydraulically-gated oscillations that integrates these feedback interactions recapitulates the evolution of cavity size and predicts the scaling of embryonic size with the tissue volume. Our theory further predicts that reduced cortical tension or disrupted tight junctions, and increased tissue stiffness lead to smaller embryonic size. These predictions are verified experimentally by embryological, pharmacological and genetic manipulations of the embryos. Remarkably, these changes to lumenal size, without a change in the tissue volume, lead to alteration of tissue architecture and cell fate. Overall, our study reveals how lumenal pressure and tissue mechanics control embryonic size at the tissue scale, that in turn couples to cell position and fate at the cellular scale.
1,528 downloads developmental biology
The early mammalian conceptus (blastocyst) comprises an outer trophoblast globe that forms an axis originating from the inner embryonic cells. From the mouse conceptus, Trophoblast stem cells (TSCs) are derived, which are in vitro analogues of early trophoblasts. Here, we show that TSCs contain plastic subpopulations reflecting developmental states ranging from pre- to post-implantation trophoblasts. However, upon exposure to a specific combination of embryonic inductive signals, TSCs globally acquire properties of pre-implantation polar trophoblasts (gene expression, self-renewal) juxtaposing the inner embryonic cells, and an enhanced, homogeneous epithelial phenotype. These lines of polar-like TSCs (pTSCs) represent a transcriptionally earlier state that more efficiently forms blastoids, whose inner embryonic cells then induce the patterning of gene expression along the embryonic-abembryonic axis. Altogether, delineating the requirements and properties of polar trophoblasts and blastocyst axis formation in vitro provides a foundation for the precise description and dissection of early development.
1,522 downloads developmental biology
SOX2 and OCT4 are pioneer transcription factors playing a key role in embryonic stem (ES) cell self-renewal and differentiation. However, how temporal fluctuations in their expression levels bias lineage commitment is unknown. Here we generated knock-in reporter fusion ES cell lines allowing to monitor endogenous SOX2 and OCT4 protein fluctuations in living cells and to determine their impact on mesendodermal and neuroectodermal commitment. We found that small differences in SOX2 and OCT4 levels impact cell fate commitment in G1 but not in S phase. Elevated SOX2 levels modestly increased neuroectodermal commitment and decreased mesendodermal commitment upon directed differentiation. In contrast, elevated OCT4 levels strongly biased ES cell towards both neuroectodermal and mesendodermal fates. Using ATAC-seq on ES cells gated for different endogenous SOX2 and OCT4 levels, we found that high OCT4 levels increased chromatin accessibility at differentiation-associated enhancers. This suggests that small endogenous fluctuations of pioneer transcription factors can bias cell fate decisions by concentration-dependent priming of differentiation-associated enhancers.
1,519 downloads developmental biology
We used live imaging to visualize the transcriptional dynamics of the Drosophila melanogaster even-skipped gene at single-cell and high temporal resolution as its iconic seven stripe expression pattern forms. We developed a rigorous quantitative framework for analyzing and visualizing these data, that allows us to infer the temporal dynamics of the transcriptional state of roughly 3,000 nuclei, and characterize how the process varies over time and space. We show that despite being created by the largely independent activity of five discrete enhancers, the seven eve stripes are sculpted by the same basic kinetic phenomena: the suppression of bursting outside of stripes, a coupled increase of burst frequency and burst duration within stripes over time and across stripes from their margins to their centers, and the exchange of active nuclei from the posterior to anterior flanks to reposition stripes over time.
1,519 downloads developmental biology
The neural crest is an embryonic cell population that contributes to key vertebrate-specific features including the craniofacial skeleton and peripheral nervous system. Here we examine the transcriptional profiles and chromatin accessibility of neural crest cells in the basal sea lamprey, in order to gain insight into the ancestral state of the neural crest gene regulatory network (GRN) at the dawn of vertebrates. Transcriptome analyses reveal clusters of co-regulated genes during neural crest specification and migration that show high conservation across vertebrates for dynamic programmes like Wnt modulation during the epithelial to mesenchymal transition, but also reveal novel transcription factors and cell-adhesion molecules not previously implicated in neural crest migration. ATAC-seq analysis refines the location of known cis-regulatory elements at the Hox-α2 locus and uncovers novel cis-regulatory elements for Tfap2B and SoxE1. Moreover, cross-species deployment of lamprey elements in zebrafish reveals that the lamprey SoxE1 enhancer activity is deeply conserved, mediating homologous expression in jawed vertebrates. Together, our data provide new insight into the core elements of the GRN that are conserved to the base of the vertebrates, as well as expose elements that are unique to lampreys.
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