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  • Msg1 and Mrg1, founding members of a gene family, show distinct patterns of gene expression during mouse embryogenesis.

    7 November 2018

    Msg1 and Mrg1 are founding members of a gene family which exhibit distinct patterns of gene expression during mouse embryogenesis. Sequence analysis reveals that these genes are unlike any other gene identified to date, but they share two near-identical sequence domains. The Msg1 and Mrg1 expression profiles during early development are distinct from each other. Msg1 is predominantly expressed in nascent mesoderm, the heart tube, limb bud and sclerotome. Intriguingly, Msg1 expression is restricted, within these developing mesodermal sites, to posterior domains. Mrg1 is expressed prior to gastrulation in the anterior visceral endoderm. Expression is maintained in the endoderm once gastrulation has begun and commences in the rostralmost embryonic mesoderm which underlies the anterior visceral endoderm. Mrg1 expression persists in this rostral mesoderm as it is translocated caudalwards during the invagination of the foregut and the formation of the heart. Later Mrg1 expression predominates in the septum transversum caudal to the heart. This expression pattern suggests that the septum transversum originates from the rostralmost embryonic mesoderm which first expressed Mrg1 at the late primitive streak stage.

  • Mutation of the fucose-specific beta1,3 N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase LFNG results in abnormal formation of the spine.

    7 November 2018

    Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that determines cell fate in a variety of contexts during development. This is achieved through different modes of action that are context dependent. One mode involves boundary formation between two groups of cells. With this mode of action, Notch signaling is central to vertebrate evolution as it drives the segmentation of paraxial mesoderm in the formation of somites, which are the precursors of the vertebra. In this case, boundary formation facilitates a mesenchymal to epithelial transition, leading to the creation of a somite. In addition, the boundary establishes a signaling center that patterns the somite, a feature that directly impacts on vertebral column formation. Studies in Xenopus, zebrafish, chicken and mouse have established the importance of Notch signaling in somitogenesis, and indeed in mouse how perturbations in somitogenesis affect vertebral column formation. Spondylocostal dysostosis is a congenital disorder characterized by formation of abnormal vertebrae. Here, mutation in Notch pathway genes demonstrates that Notch signaling is also required for normal somite formation and vertebral column development in humans; of particular interest here is mutation of the LUNATIC FRINGE (LFNG) gene, which causes SCD type 3. LUNATIC FRINGE encodes for a fucose-specific beta1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase, which modifies Notch receptors and alters Notch signaling activity. This review will focus on Notch glycolsylation, and the role of LUNATIC FRINGE in somite formation and vertebral column development in mice and humans.

  • Combinatorial signaling in the heart orchestrates cardiac induction, lineage specification and chamber formation.

    7 November 2018

    The complexity of mammalian cardiogenesis is compounded, as the heart must function in the embryo whilst it is still being formed. Great advances have been made recently as additional cardiac progenitor cell populations have been identified. The induction and maintenance of these progenitors, and their deployment to the developing heart relies on combinatorial molecular signalling, a feature also of cardiac chamber formation. Many forms of congenital heart disease in humans are likely to arise from defects in the early stages of heart development; therefore it is important to understand the molecular pathways that underlie some of the key events that shape the heart during the early stages of it development.

  • Notch1 endocytosis is induced by ligand and is required for signal transduction.

    7 November 2018

    The Notch signalling pathway is widely utilised during embryogenesis in situations where cell-cell interactions are important for cell fate specification and differentiation. DSL ligand endocytosis into the ligand-expressing cell is an important aspect of Notch signalling because it is thought to supply the force needed to separate the Notch heterodimer to initiate signal transduction. A functional role for receptor endocytosis during Notch signal transduction is more controversial. Here we have used live-cell imaging to examine trafficking of the Notch1 receptor in response to ligand binding. Contact with cells expressing ligands induced internalisation and intracellular trafficking of Notch1. Notch1 endocytosis was accompanied by transendocytosis of ligand into the Notch1-expressing signal-receiving cell. Ligand caused Notch1 endocytosis into SARA-positive endosomes in a manner dependent on clathrin and dynamin function. Moreover, inhibition of endocytosis in the receptor-expressing cell impaired ligand-induced Notch1 signalling. Our findings resolve conflicting observations from mammalian and Drosophila studies by demonstrating that ligand-dependent activation of Notch1 signalling requires receptor endocytosis. Endocytosis of Notch1 may provide a force on the ligand:receptor complex that is important for potent signal transduction.

  • Progress in the understanding of the genetic etiology of vertebral segmentation disorders in humans.

    7 November 2018

    Vertebral malformations contribute substantially to the pathophysiology of kyphosis and scoliosis, common health problems associated with back and neck pain, disability, cosmetic disfigurement, and functional distress. This review explores (1) recent advances in the understanding of the molecular embryology underlying vertebral development and relevance to elucidation of etiologies of several known human vertebral malformation syndromes; (2) outcomes of molecular studies elucidating genetic contributions to congenital and sporadic vertebral malformation; and (3) complex interrelationships between genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the pathogenesis of isolated syndromic and nonsyndromic congenital vertebral malformation. Discussion includes exploration of the importance of establishing improved classification systems for vertebral malformation, future directions in molecular and genetic research approaches to vertebral malformation, and translational value of research efforts to clinical management and genetic counseling of affected individuals and their families.

  • Dynamic expression patterns of the pudgy/spondylocostal dysostosis gene Dll3 in the developing nervous system.

    7 November 2018

    Defects in the Notch pathway ligand Dll3 have been identified in the mouse pudgy (Dll3(pu)) and human spondylocostal dysostosis (SD, MIM 277300) mutations. Although these mutations are primarily associated with segmental defects in the axial skeleton and somitic patterning, they also exhibit cranial neurological defects. Therefore we have looked at the expression of Dll3 in the developing mouse nervous system. The expression of Notch ligands and receptors shares common features at 10.75 dpc in the rhombic lips and dorsal hindbrain. Temporal analysis of Dll3 expression from 9.0 to 11.0 dpc reveals that it is strongly expressed in laminar columns linked with regions of neuronal differentiation and hindbrain segmentation. Transverse sections show that Dll3 is expressed in territories where commissural neurons are formed. We have also looked at neuronal patterning in the mid-hindbrain region in Dll3(pu) mutants.

  • Unrestricted lineage differentiation of parthenogenetic ES cells.

    7 November 2018

    The developmental potential of parthenogenetic embryonic stem (P-ES) cells was studied in teratomas and mouse chimaeras. Teratomas derived from P-ES cells contained a mixture of tissue types with variable proportions of specific tissues. Three of the eight P-ES cell lines analysed showed high proportions of striated muscle in teratomas, similar to teratomas from normal embryos or ES cell lines derived from fertilised embryos (F-ES cells). Our study also revealed that one P-ES cell line showed little lineage restriction in injection chimaeras. Descendants of the P-ES cells contributed to most tissues of chimaeric fetuses in patterns similar to F-ES cells. Normal colonisation of muscle, liver and pancreas was found in adult chimaeras. P-ES cells also showed similar haematopoietic differentiation and maturation as F-ES cells. However, extensive P-ES cell contribution was associated with a reduction in body size. These findings suggest that, while P-ES cells display more extensive developmental potential than the cells of parthenogenetic embryos from which they were derived, they only retained properties related to the presence of the maternal genome. To elucidate the molecular basis for the lack of lineage restriction during in vivo differentiation, the expression of four imprinted genes, H19, Igf2r, Igf2 and Snrpn was compared among five P-ES and two F-ES cell lines. Expression levels of these genes varied among the different ES cell lines, both in undifferentiated ES cells and in embryoid bodies.

  • Cited2, a coactivator of HNF4alpha, is essential for liver development.

    7 November 2018

    The transcriptional modulator Cited2 is induced by various biological stimuli including hypoxia, cytokines, growth factors, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and flow shear. In this study, we report that Cited2 is required for mouse fetal liver development. Cited2(-/-) fetal liver displays hypoplasia with higher incidence of cell apoptosis, and exhibits disrupted cell-cell contact, disorganized sinusoidal architecture, as well as impaired lipid metabolism and hepatic gluconeogenesis. Furthermore, we demonstrated the physical and functional interaction of Cited2 with liver-enriched transcription factor HNF4alpha. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays further confirmed the recruitment of Cited2 onto the HNF4alpha-responsive promoters and the reduced HNF4alpha binding to its target gene promoters in the absence of Cited2. Taken together, this study suggests that fetal liver defects in mice lacking Cited2 result, at least in part, from its defective coactivation function for HNF4alpha.

  • Riley Group

    10 July 2016

  • Robbins Group

    1 May 2018

    Human physiology: Effects of hypoxia and exercise on respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic function

  • Smart Group

    10 July 2016

    Development, homeostasis and regeneration of the cardiovascular system

  • Srinivas Group

    10 July 2016

    Patterning and morphogenesis of the early mammalian embryo

  • Stein Group

    16 September 2013

    Visuomotor control in movement disorders and developmental dyslexia

  • Swietach Group

    10 July 2016

    Acid handling and signalling in the heart and in cancer

  • Szele Group

    10 July 2016

    We study postnatal and adult mammalian brain stem cells to uncover fundamental developmental mechanisms and disease pathogenesis.

  • Taylor Group

    10 July 2016

    Axon Growth and Guidance in the Developing and Regenerating Central Nervous System

  • Tyler Group

    10 July 2016

    Development and Application of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy

  • Waddell Group

    10 July 2016

    Memory, motivation and individuality