The massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet looks stable from above — but it’s a dangerously different story below.
Nature 544 152 doi: 10.1038/544152a
Each scale on an ocellated lizard coordinates its colour with its neighbours.
Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.21817
A better understanding of this pedestrian problem could lead to improved surgeons’ knots and fibres.
Nature 544 279 doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.21815
The goal is to compare these engineered organs to animal models, with an eye towards replacing animal testing.
Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.21818
Brain drain from entering member states led to less-integrated research in countries of origin.
Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.21825
Inhibition of the myostatin signaling pathway is emerging as a promising therapeutic means to treat muscle wasting and degenerative disorders. Activin type IIB receptor (ActRIIB) is the putative myostatin receptor, and a soluble activin receptor (ActRIIB-Fc) has been demonstrated to potently inhibit a subset of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta family members including myostatin. To determine reliable and valid biomarkers for ActRIIB-Fc treatment, we assessed gene expression profiles for quadriceps muscles from mice treated with ActRIIB-Fc compared with mice genetically lacking myostatin and control mice. Expression of 134 genes was significantly altered in mice treated with ActRIIB-Fc over a 2-wk period relative to control mice (fold change > 1.5, P < 0.001), whereas the number of significantly altered genes in mice treated for 2 days was 38, demonstrating a time-dependent response to ActRIIB-Fc in overall muscle gene expression. The number of significantly altered genes in Mstn(-/-) mice relative to control mice was substantially higher (360), but for most of these genes the expression levels in the 2-wk treated mice were closer to the levels in the Mstn(-/-) mice than in control mice (P < 10(-)(3)(0)). Expression levels of 30 selected genes were further validated with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), and a correlation of > /= 0.89 was observed between the fold changes from the microarray analysis and the qPCR analysis. These data suggest that treatment with ActRIIB-Fc results in overlapping but distinct gene expression signatures compared with myostatin genetic mutation. Differentially expressed genes identified in this study can be used as potential biomarkers for ActRIIB-Fc treatment, which is currently in clinical trials as a therapeutic agent for muscle wasting and degenerative disorders.
Zic genes encode a conserved family of zinc finger proteins with essential functions in neural development and axial skeletal patterning in the vertebrate embryo. Zic proteins also function as Gli co-factors in Hedgehog signaling. Here, we report that Zic genes have a role in Myf5 regulation for epaxial somite myogenesis in the mouse embryo. In situ hybridization studies show that Zic1, 2, and 3 transcripts are expressed in Myf5-expressing epaxial myogenic progenitors in the dorsal medial dermomyotome of newly forming somites, and immunohistological studies show that Zic2 protein is co-localized with Myf5 and Pax3 in the dorsal medial lip of the dermomyotome, but is not expressed in the forming myotome. In functional reporter assays, Zic1 and Zic2, but not Zic3, potentiate the transactivation of Gli-dependent Myf5 epaxial somite-specific (ES) enhancer activity in 3T3 cells, and Zic1 activates endogenous Myf5 expression in 10T1/2 cells and in presomitic mesoderm explants. Zic2 also co-immunoprecipitates with Gli2, indicating that Zic2 forms complexes with Gli2 to promote Myf5 expression. Genetic studies show that, although Zic2 and Zic1 are activated normally in sonic hedgehog(-/-) mutant embryos, Myf5 expression in newly forming somites is deficient in both sonic hedgehog(-/-) and in Zic2(kd/kd) mutant mouse embryos, providing further evidence that these Zic genes are upstream regulators of Hedgehog-mediated Myf5 activation. Myf5 activation in newly forming somites is delayed in Zic2 mutant embryos until the time of Zic1 activation, and both Zic2 and Myf5 require noggin for their activation.
The Hedgehog pathway plays important roles in embryonic development, adult stem cell maintenance and tumorigenesis. In mammals these effects are mediated by Sonic, Desert and Indian Hedgehog (Shh, Dhh and Ihh). Shh undergoes autocatalytic cleavage and dual lipidation prior to secretion and forming a response gradient. Post-translational processing and secretion of Dhh and Ihh ligands has not previously been investigated. This study reports on the synthesis, processing, secretion and signaling activities of SHH, IHH and DHH preproteins expressed in cultured cells, providing unexpected evidence that DHH does not undergo substantial autoprocessing or secretion, and does not function in paracrine signaling. Rather, DHH functions as a juxtacrine signaling ligand to activate a cell contact-mediated HH signaling response, consistent with its localised signaling in vivo. Further, the LnCAP prostate cancer cell, when induced to express endogenous DHH and SHH, is active only in juxtacrine signaling. Domain swap studies reveal that the C-terminal domain of HH regulates its processing and secretion. These findings establish a new regulatory role for HHs in cell-mediated juxtacrine signaling in development and cancer.
D4Z4 repeats are present in at least 11 different mammalian species, including humans and mice. Each repeat contains an open reading frame encoding a double homeodomain (DUX) family transcription factor. Aberrant expression of the D4Z4 ORF called DUX4 is associated with the pathogenesis of Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). DUX4 is toxic to numerous cell types of different species, and over-expression caused dysmorphism and developmental arrest in frogs and zebrafish, embryonic lethality in transgenic mice, and lesions in mouse muscle. Because DUX4 is a primate-specific gene, questions have been raised about the biological relevance of over-expressing it in non-primate models, as DUX4 toxicity could be related to non-specific cellular stress induced by over-expressing a DUX family transcription factor in organisms that did not co-evolve its regulated transcriptional networks. We assessed toxic phenotypes of DUX family genes, including DUX4, DUX1, DUX5, DUXA, DUX4-s, Dux-bl and mouse Dux. We found that DUX proteins were not universally toxic, and only the mouse Dux gene caused similar toxic phenotypes as human DUX4. Using RNA-seq, we found that 80% of genes upregulated by Dux were similarly increased in DUX4-expressing cells. Moreover, 43% of Dux-responsive genes contained ChIP-seq binding sites for both Dux and DUX4, and both proteins had similar consensus binding site sequences. These results suggested DUX4 and Dux may regulate some common pathways, and despite diverging from a common progenitor under different selective pressures for millions of years, the two genes maintain partial functional homology.
Homologous Transcription Factors DUX4 and DUX4c Associate with Cytoplasmic Proteins during Muscle Differentiation
Hundreds of double homeobox (DUX) genes map within 3.3-kb repeated elements dispersed in the human genome and encode DNA-binding proteins. Among these, we identified DUX4, a potent transcription factor that causes facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). In the present study, we performed yeast two-hybrid screens and protein co-purifications with HaloTag-DUX fusions or GST-DUX4 pull-down to identify protein partners of DUX4, DUX4c (which is identical to DUX4 except for the end of the carboxyl terminal domain) and DUX1 (which is limited to the double homeodomain). Unexpectedly, we identified and validated (by co-immunoprecipitation, GST pull-down, co-immunofluorescence and in situ Proximal Ligation Assay) the interaction of DUX4, DUX4c and DUX1 with type III intermediate filament protein desmin in the cytoplasm and at the nuclear periphery. Desmin filaments link adjacent sarcomere at the Z-discs, connect them to sarcolemma proteins and interact with mitochondria. These intermediate filament also contact the nuclear lamina and contribute to positioning of the nuclei. Another Z-disc protein, LMCD1 that contains a LIM domain was also validated as a DUX4 partner. The functionality of DUX4 or DUX4c interactions with cytoplasmic proteins is underscored by the cytoplasmic detection of DUX4/DUX4c upon myoblast fusion. In addition, we identified and validated (by co-immunoprecipitation, co-immunofluorescence and in situ Proximal Ligation Assay) as DUX4/4c partners several RNA-binding proteins such as C1QBP, SRSF9, RBM3, FUS/TLS and SFPQ that are involved in mRNA splicing and translation. FUS and SFPQ are nuclear proteins, however their cytoplasmic translocation was reported in neuronal cells where they associated with ribonucleoparticles (RNPs). Several other validated or identified DUX4/DUX4c partners are also contained in mRNP granules, and the co-localizations with cytoplasmic DAPI-positive spots is in keeping with such an association. Large muscle RNPs were recently shown to exit the nucleus via a novel mechanism of nuclear envelope budding. Following DUX4 or DUX4c overexpression in muscle cell cultures, we observed their association with similar nuclear buds. In conclusion, our study demonstrated unexpected interactions of DUX4/4c with cytoplasmic proteins playing major roles during muscle differentiation. Further investigations are on-going to evaluate whether these interactions play roles during muscle regeneration as previously suggested for DUX4c.
Sapje zebrafish lack the protein dystrophin and are the smallest vertebrate model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Their small size makes them ideal for large-scale drug discovery screens. However, the extent that sapje mimic the muscle dysfunction of higher vertebrate models of DMD is unclear. We used an optical birefringence assay to differentiate affected dystrophic sapje larvae from their unaffected siblings and then studied trunk muscle contractility at 4-7 days post fertilization. Preparation cross-sectional area (CSA) was similar for affected and unaffected larvae, yet tetanic forces of affected preparations were only 30-60% of normal. ANCOVA indicated that the linear relationship observed between tetanic force and CSA for unaffected preparations was absent in the affected population. Consequently, the average force/CSA of affected larvae was depressed 30-70%. Disproportionate reductions in twitch vs. tetanic force, and a slowing of twitch tension development and relaxation, indicated that the myofibrillar disorganization evident in the birefringence assay could not explain the entire force loss. Single eccentric contractions, in which activated preparations were lengthened 5-10%, resulted in tetanic force deficits in both groups of larvae. However, deficits of affected preparations were 3 to 5-fold greater at all strains and ages, even after accounting for any recovery. Based on these functional assessments, we conclude that the sapje mutant zebrafish is a phenotypically severe model of DMD. The severe contractile deficits of sapje larvae represent novel physiological endpoints for therapeutic drug screening.