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J. Dev. Biol., Volume 8, Issue 4 (December 2020) – 14 articles

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Open AccessReview
What Is Lost in the Weismann Barrier?
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 35; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040035 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 577
Abstract
The Weismann barrier has long been regarded as a basic tenet of biology. However, upon close examination of its historical origins and August Weismann’s own writings, questions arise as to whether such a status is warranted. As scientific research has advanced, the persistence [...] Read more.
The Weismann barrier has long been regarded as a basic tenet of biology. However, upon close examination of its historical origins and August Weismann’s own writings, questions arise as to whether such a status is warranted. As scientific research has advanced, the persistence of the concept of the barrier has left us with the same dichotomies Weismann contended with over 100 years ago: germ or soma, gene or environment, hard or soft inheritance. These dichotomies distract from the more important questions we need to address going forward. In this review, we will examine the theories that have shaped Weismann’s thinking, how the concept of the Weismann barrier emerged, and the limitations that it carries. We will contrast the principles underlying the barrier with recent and less recent findings in developmental biology and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance that have profoundly eroded the oppositional view of germline vs. soma. Discarding the barrier allows us to examine the interactive processes and their response to environmental context that generate germ cells in the first place, determine the entirety of what is inherited through them, and set the trajectory for the health status of the progeny they bear. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weismann Barrier: What Is Left of It?)
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Open AccessArticle
Mud Loss Restricts Yki-Dependent Hyperplasia in Drosophila Epithelia
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 34; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040034 - 13 Dec 2020
Viewed by 451
Abstract
Tissue development demands precise control of cell proliferation and organization, which is achieved through multiple conserved signaling pathways and protein complexes in multicellular animals. Epithelia are a ubiquitous tissue type that provide diverse functions including physical protection, barrier formation, chemical exchange, and secretory [...] Read more.
Tissue development demands precise control of cell proliferation and organization, which is achieved through multiple conserved signaling pathways and protein complexes in multicellular animals. Epithelia are a ubiquitous tissue type that provide diverse functions including physical protection, barrier formation, chemical exchange, and secretory activity. However, epithelial cells are also a common driver of tumorigenesis; thus, understanding the molecular mechanisms that control their growth dynamics is important in understanding not only developmental mechanisms but also disease. One prominent pathway that regulates epithelial growth is the conserved Hippo/Warts/Yorkie network. Hippo/Warts inactivation, or activating mutations in Yorkie that prevent its phosphorylation (e.g., YkiS168A), drive hyperplastic tissue growth. We recently reported that loss of Mushroom body defect (Mud), a microtubule-associated protein that contributes to mitotic spindle function, restricts YkiS168A-mediated growth in Drosophila imaginal wing disc epithelia. Here we show that Mud loss alters cell cycle progression and triggers apoptosis with accompanying Jun kinase (JNK) activation in YkiS168A-expressing discs. To identify additional molecular insights, we performed RNAseq and differential gene expression profiling. This analysis revealed that Mud knockdown in YkiS168A-expressing discs resulted in a significant downregulation in expression of core basement membrane (BM) and extracellular matrix (ECM) genes, including the type IV collagen gene viking. Furthermore, we found that YkiS168A-expressing discs accumulated increased collagen protein, which was reduced following Mud knockdown. Our results suggest that ECM/BM remodeling can limit untoward growth initiated by an important driver of tumor growth and highlight a potential regulatory link with cytoskeleton-associated genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2020 Feature Papers by JDB’ Editorial Board Members)
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Open AccessArticle
Gbx2 Is Required for the Migration and Survival of a Subpopulation of Trigeminal Cranial Neural Crest Cells
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 33; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040033 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 398
Abstract
The development of key structures within the mature vertebrate hindbrain requires the migration of neural crest (NC) cells and motor neurons to their appropriate target sites. Functional analyses in multiple species have revealed a requirement for the transcription factor gastrulation-brain-homeobox 2 (Gbx2) in [...] Read more.
The development of key structures within the mature vertebrate hindbrain requires the migration of neural crest (NC) cells and motor neurons to their appropriate target sites. Functional analyses in multiple species have revealed a requirement for the transcription factor gastrulation-brain-homeobox 2 (Gbx2) in NC cell migration and positioning of motor neurons in the developing hindbrain. In addition, loss of Gbx2 function studies in mutant mouse embryos, Gbx2neo, demonstrate a requirement for Gbx2 for the development of NC-derived sensory neurons and axons constituting the mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve (CNV). Our recent GBX2 target gene identification study identified multiple genes required for the migration and survival of NC cells (e.g., Robo1, Slit3, Nrp1). In this report, we performed loss-of-function analyses using Gbx2neo mutant embryos, to improve our understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms regulated by Gbx2 during anterior hindbrain and CNV development. Analysis of Tbx20 expression in the hindbrain of Gbx2neo homozygotes revealed a severely truncated rhombomere (r)2. Our data also provide evidence demonstrating a requirement for Gbx2 in the temporal regulation of Krox20 expression in r3. Lastly, we show that Gbx2 is required for the expression of Nrp1 in a subpopulation of trigeminal NC cells, and correct migration and survival of cranial NC cells that populate the trigeminal ganglion. Taken together, these findings provide additional insight into molecular and genetic mechanisms regulated by Gbx2 that underlie NC migration, trigeminal ganglion assembly, and, more broadly, anterior hindbrain development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Journal of Developmental Biology)
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Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Nguyen T.L., et al. Role of Prokineticin Receptor-1 in Epicardial Progenitor Cells. J. Dev. Biol. 2013, 1, 20–31
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 32; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040032 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 346
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to this paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epicardial Development and Cardiovascular Disease)
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Open AccessArticle
Transcriptional Trajectories in Mouse Limb Buds Reveal the Transition from Anterior-Posterior to Proximal-Distal Patterning at Early Limb Bud Stage
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 31; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040031 - 07 Dec 2020
Viewed by 568
Abstract
Limb patterning relies in large part on the function of the Hox family of developmental genes. While the differential expression of Hox genes shifts from the anterior–posterior (A–P) to the proximal–distal (P–D) axis around embryonic day 11 (E11), whether this shift coincides with [...] Read more.
Limb patterning relies in large part on the function of the Hox family of developmental genes. While the differential expression of Hox genes shifts from the anterior–posterior (A–P) to the proximal–distal (P–D) axis around embryonic day 11 (E11), whether this shift coincides with a more global change of A–P to P–D patterning program remains unclear. By performing and analyzing the transcriptome of the developing limb bud from E10.5 to E12.5, at single-cell resolution, we have uncovered transcriptional trajectories that revealed a general switch from A–P to P–D genetic program between E10.5 and E11.5. Interestingly, all the transcriptional trajectories at E10.5 end with cells expressing either proximal or distal markers suggesting a progressive acquisition of P–D identity. Moreover, we identified three categories of genes expressed in the distal limb mesenchyme characterized by distinct temporal expression dynamics. Among these are Hoxa13 and Hoxd13 (Hox13 hereafter), which start to be expressed around E10.5, and importantly the binding of the HOX13 factors was observed within or in the neighborhood of several of the distal limb genes. Our data are consistent with previous evidence suggesting that the transition from the early/proximal to the late/distal transcriptome of the limb mesenchyme largely relies on HOX13 function. Based on these results and the evidence that HOX13 factors restrict Hoxa11 expression to the proximal limb, in progenitor cells of the zeugopod, we propose that HOX13 act as a key determinant of P–D patterning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women in Developmental Biology)
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Open AccessReview
Phenotypes, Developmental Basis, and Genetics of Pierre Robin Complex
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 30; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040030 - 05 Dec 2020
Viewed by 684
Abstract
The phenotype currently accepted as Pierre Robin syndrome/sequence/anomalad/complex (PR) is characterized by mandibular dysmorphology, glossoptosis, respiratory obstruction, and in some cases, cleft palate. A causative sequence of developmental events is hypothesized for PR, but few clear causal relationships between discovered genetic variants, dysregulated [...] Read more.
The phenotype currently accepted as Pierre Robin syndrome/sequence/anomalad/complex (PR) is characterized by mandibular dysmorphology, glossoptosis, respiratory obstruction, and in some cases, cleft palate. A causative sequence of developmental events is hypothesized for PR, but few clear causal relationships between discovered genetic variants, dysregulated gene expression, precise cellular processes, pathogenesis, and PR-associated anomalies are documented. This review presents the current understanding of PR phenotypes, the proposed pathogenetic processes underlying them, select genes associated with PR, and available animal models that could be used to better understand the genetic basis and phenotypic variation of PR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology)
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Open AccessReview
Perspective: Controlling Epidermal Terminal Differentiation with Transcriptional Bursting and RNA Bodies
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 29; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040029 - 04 Dec 2020
Viewed by 417
Abstract
The outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, is the principal barrier to the external environment: post-mitotic cells terminally differentiate to form a tough outer cornified layer of enucleate and flattened cells that confer the majority of skin barrier function. Nuclear degradation is [...] Read more.
The outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, is the principal barrier to the external environment: post-mitotic cells terminally differentiate to form a tough outer cornified layer of enucleate and flattened cells that confer the majority of skin barrier function. Nuclear degradation is required for correct cornified envelope formation. This process requires mRNA translation during the process of nuclear destruction. In this review and perspective, we address the biology of transcriptional bursting and the formation of ribonuclear particles in model organisms including mammals, and then examine the evidence that these phenomena occur as part of epidermal terminal differentiation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2020 Feature Papers by JDB’ Editorial Board Members)
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Open AccessReview
Environmentally Induced Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance and the Weismann Barrier: The Dawn of Neo-Lamarckian Theory
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 28; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040028 - 04 Dec 2020
Viewed by 687
Abstract
For the past 120 years, the Weismann barrier and associated germ plasm theory of heredity have been a doctrine that has impacted evolutionary biology and our concepts of inheritance through the germline. Although August Weismann in his 1872 book was correct that the [...] Read more.
For the past 120 years, the Weismann barrier and associated germ plasm theory of heredity have been a doctrine that has impacted evolutionary biology and our concepts of inheritance through the germline. Although August Weismann in his 1872 book was correct that the sperm and egg were the only cells to transmit molecular information to the subsequent generation, the concept that somatic cells do not impact the germline (i.e., the Weismann barrier) is incorrect. However, the doctrine or dogma of the Weismann barrier still influences many scientific fields and topics. The discovery of epigenetics, and more recently environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of phenotypic variation and pathology, have had significant impacts on evolution theory and medicine today. Environmental epigenetics and the concept of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance refute aspects of the Weismann barrier and require a re-evaluation of both inheritance theory and evolution theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weismann Barrier: What Is Left of It?)
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Open AccessArticle
Evolution of Developmental GATA Factors in Nematodes
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 27; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040027 - 16 Nov 2020
Viewed by 616
Abstract
GATA transcription factors are found in animals, plants, and fungi. In animals, they have important developmental roles in controlling specification of cell identities and executing tissue-specific differentiation. The Phylum Nematoda is a diverse group of vermiform animals that inhabit ecological niches all over [...] Read more.
GATA transcription factors are found in animals, plants, and fungi. In animals, they have important developmental roles in controlling specification of cell identities and executing tissue-specific differentiation. The Phylum Nematoda is a diverse group of vermiform animals that inhabit ecological niches all over the world. Both free-living and parasitic species are known, including those that cause human infectious disease. To date, GATA factors in nematodes have been studied almost exclusively in the model system C. elegans and its close relatives. In this study, we use newly available sequences to identify GATA factors across the nematode phylum. We find that most species have fewer than six GATA factors, but some species have 10 or more. Comparisons of gene and protein structure suggest that there were at most two GATA factors at the base of the phylum, which expanded by duplication and modification to result in a core set of four factors. The high degree of structural similarity with the corresponding orthologues in C. elegans suggests that the nematode GATA factors share similar functions in development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2020 Feature Papers by JDB’ Editorial Board Members)
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Open AccessReview
Genetics Underlying the Interactions between Neural Crest Cells and Eye Development
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 26; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040026 - 10 Nov 2020
Viewed by 541
Abstract
The neural crest is a unique, transient stem cell population that is critical for craniofacial and ocular development. Understanding the genetics underlying the steps of neural crest development is essential for gaining insight into the pathogenesis of congenital eye diseases. The neural crest [...] Read more.
The neural crest is a unique, transient stem cell population that is critical for craniofacial and ocular development. Understanding the genetics underlying the steps of neural crest development is essential for gaining insight into the pathogenesis of congenital eye diseases. The neural crest cells play an under-appreciated key role in patterning the neural epithelial-derived optic cup. These interactions between neural crest cells within the periocular mesenchyme and the optic cup, while not well-studied, are critical for optic cup morphogenesis and ocular fissure closure. As a result, microphthalmia and coloboma are common phenotypes in human disease and animal models in which neural crest cell specification and early migration are disrupted. In addition, neural crest cells directly contribute to numerous ocular structures including the cornea, iris, sclera, ciliary body, trabecular meshwork, and aqueous outflow tracts. Defects in later neural crest cell migration and differentiation cause a constellation of well-recognized ocular anterior segment anomalies such as Axenfeld–Rieger Syndrome and Peters Anomaly. This review will focus on the genetics of the neural crest cells within the context of how these complex processes specifically affect overall ocular development and can lead to congenital eye diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology)
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Open AccessReview
Molecular and Cellular Pathogenesis of Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome: Lessons from Targeted and Natural Mutations in Animal Models
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 25; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040025 - 09 Oct 2020
Viewed by 604
Abstract
Ellis-van Creveld syndrome (EVC; MIM ID #225500) is a rare congenital disease with an occurrence of 1 in 60,000. It is characterized by remarkable skeletal dysplasia, such as short limbs, ribs and polydactyly, and orofacial anomalies. With two of three patients first noted [...] Read more.
Ellis-van Creveld syndrome (EVC; MIM ID #225500) is a rare congenital disease with an occurrence of 1 in 60,000. It is characterized by remarkable skeletal dysplasia, such as short limbs, ribs and polydactyly, and orofacial anomalies. With two of three patients first noted as being offspring of consanguineous marriage, this autosomal recessive disease results from mutations in one of two causative genes: EVC or EVC2/LIMBIN. The recent identification and manipulation of genetic homologs in animals has deepened our understanding beyond human case studies and provided critical insight into disease pathogenesis. This review highlights the utility of animal-based studies of EVC by summarizing: (1) molecular biology of EVC and EVC2/LIMBIN, (2) human disease signs, (3) dysplastic limb development, (4) craniofacial anomalies, (5) tooth anomalies, (6) tracheal cartilage abnormalities, and (7) EVC-like disorders in non-human species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Development: Focus on Rare Congenital Diseases)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Conversion of Germ Cells to Somatic Cell Types in C. elegans
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 24; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040024 - 07 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 721
Abstract
The potential of a cell to produce all types of differentiated cells in an organism is termed totipotency. Totipotency is an essential property of germ cells, which constitute the germline and pass on the parental genetic material to the progeny. The potential of [...] Read more.
The potential of a cell to produce all types of differentiated cells in an organism is termed totipotency. Totipotency is an essential property of germ cells, which constitute the germline and pass on the parental genetic material to the progeny. The potential of germ cells to give rise to a whole organism has been the subject of intense research for decades and remains important in order to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying totipotency. A better understanding of the principles of totipotency in germ cells could also help to generate this potential in somatic cell lineages. Strategies such as transcription factor-mediated reprogramming of differentiated cells to stem cell-like states could benefit from this knowledge. Ensuring pluripotency or even totipotency of reprogrammed stem cells are critical improvements for future regenerative medicine applications. The C. elegans germline provides a unique possibility to study molecular mechanisms that maintain totipotency and the germ cell fate with its unique property of giving rise to meiotic cells Studies that focused on these aspects led to the identification of prominent chromatin-repressing factors such as the C. elegans members of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2). In this review, we summarize different factors that were recently identified, which use molecular mechanisms such as control of protein translation or chromatin repression to ensure maintenance of totipotency and the germline fate. Additionally, we focus on recently identified factors involved in preventing transcription-factor-mediated conversion of germ cells to somatic lineages. These so-called reprogramming barriers have been shown in some instances to be conserved with regard to their function as a cell fate safeguarding factor in mammals. Overall, continued studies assessing the different aspects of molecular pathways involved in maintaining the germ cell fate in C. elegans may provide more insight into cell fate safeguarding mechanisms also in other species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weismann Barrier: What Is Left of It?)
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Open AccessReview
C. elegans Apical Extracellular Matrices Shape Epithelia
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 23; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040023 - 06 Oct 2020
Viewed by 733
Abstract
Apical extracellular matrices (aECMs) coat exposed surfaces of epithelia to shape developing tissues and protect them from environmental insults. Despite their widespread importance for human health, aECMs are poorly understood compared to basal and stromal ECMs. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans contains a variety [...] Read more.
Apical extracellular matrices (aECMs) coat exposed surfaces of epithelia to shape developing tissues and protect them from environmental insults. Despite their widespread importance for human health, aECMs are poorly understood compared to basal and stromal ECMs. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans contains a variety of distinct aECMs, some of which share many of the same types of components (lipids, lipoproteins, collagens, zona pellucida domain proteins, chondroitin glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans) with mammalian aECMs. These aECMs include the eggshell, a glycocalyx-like pre-cuticle, both collagenous and chitin-based cuticles, and other understudied aECMs of internal epithelia. C. elegans allows rapid genetic manipulations and live imaging of fluorescently-tagged aECM components, and is therefore providing new insights into aECM structure, trafficking, assembly, and functions in tissue shaping. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Exploring the Expression of Cardiac Regulators in a Vertebrate Extremophile: The Cichlid Fish Oreochromis (Alcolapia) alcalica
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(4), 22; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jdb8040022 - 04 Oct 2020
Viewed by 702
Abstract
Although it is widely accepted that the cellular and molecular mechanisms of vertebrate cardiac development are evolutionarily conserved, this is on the basis of data from only a few model organisms suited to laboratory studies. Here, we investigate gene expression during cardiac development [...] Read more.
Although it is widely accepted that the cellular and molecular mechanisms of vertebrate cardiac development are evolutionarily conserved, this is on the basis of data from only a few model organisms suited to laboratory studies. Here, we investigate gene expression during cardiac development in the extremophile, non-model fish species, Oreochromis (Alcolapia) alcalica. We first characterise the early development of O. alcalica and observe extensive vascularisation across the yolk prior to hatching. We further investigate heart development by identifying and cloning O. alcalica orthologues of conserved cardiac transcription factors gata4, tbx5, and mef2c for analysis by in situ hybridisation. Expression of these three key cardiac developmental regulators also reveals other aspects of O. alcalica development, as these genes are expressed in developing blood, limb, eyes, and muscle, as well as the heart. Our data support the notion that O. alcalica is a direct-developing vertebrate that shares the highly conserved molecular regulation of the vertebrate body plan. However, the expression of gata4 in O. alcalica reveals interesting differences in the development of the circulatory system distinct from that of the well-studied zebrafish. Understanding the development of O. alcalica embryos is an important step towards providing a model for future research into the adaptation to extreme conditions; this is particularly relevant given that anthropogenic-driven climate change will likely result in more freshwater organisms being exposed to less favourable conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Journal of Developmental Biology)
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