Persistence, period and precision of autonomous cellular oscillators from the zebrafish segmentation clock
In vertebrate development, the sequential and rhythmic segmentation of the body axis is regulated by a 'segmentation clock.' This clock is comprised of a population of coordinated oscillating cells that together produce rhythmic gene expression patterns in the embryo. Whether individual cells autonomously maintain oscillations, or whether oscillations depend on signals from neighboring cells is unknown. Using a transgenic zebrafish reporter line for the cyclic transcription factor Her1, we recorded single tailbud cells in vitro. We demonstrate that individual cells can behave as autonomous cellular oscillators. We described the observed variability in cell behavior using a theory of generic oscillators with correlated noise. Single cells have longer periods and lower precision than the tissue, highlighting the role of collective processes in the segmentation clock. Our work reveals a population of cells from the zebrafish segmentation clock that behave as self-sustained, autonomous oscillators with distinctive noisy dynamics.
Article and author information
Animal experimentation: Zebrafish experimentation was carried out in strict accordance with the ethics and regulations of the Saxonian Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture in Germany under licence Az. 74-9165.40-9-2001, and the Home Office in the United Kingdom under project licence PPL No. 70/7675.
- Tanya T Whitfield, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
- Received: July 8, 2015
- Accepted: February 11, 2016
- Accepted Manuscript published: February 13, 2016 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: March 4, 2016 (version 2)
© 2016, Webb et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
- Page views
Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Scopus, Crossref, PubMed Central.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Cite this article (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
- Computational and Systems Biology
The mouse brain is by far the most intensively studied among mammalian brains, yet basic measures of its cytoarchitecture remain obscure. For example, quantifying cell numbers, and the interplay of sex, strain, and individual variability in cell density and volume is out of reach for many regions. The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity project produces high-resolution full brain images of hundreds of brains. Although these were created for a different purpose, they reveal details of neuroanatomy and cytoarchitecture. Here, we used this population to systematically characterize cell density and volume for each anatomical unit in the mouse brain. We developed a DNN-based segmentation pipeline that uses the autofluorescence intensities of images to segment cell nuclei even within the densest regions, such as the dentate gyrus. We applied our pipeline to 507 brains of males and females from C57BL/6J and FVB.CD1 strains. Globally, we found that increased overall brain volume does not result in uniform expansion across all regions. Moreover, region-specific density changes are often negatively correlated with the volume of the region; therefore, cell count does not scale linearly with volume. Many regions, including layer 2/3 across several cortical areas, showed distinct lateral bias. We identified strain-specific or sex-specific differences. For example, males tended to have more cells in extended amygdala and hypothalamic regions (MEA, BST, BLA, BMA, and LPO, AHN) while females had more cells in the orbital cortex (ORB). Yet, inter-individual variability was always greater than the effect size of a single qualifier. We provide the results of this analysis as an accessible resource for the community.
- Computational and Systems Biology
- Immunology and Inflammation
To appropriately defend against a wide array of pathogens, humans somatically generate highly diverse repertoires of B cell and T cell receptors (BCRs and TCRs) through a random process called V(D)J recombination. Receptor diversity is achieved during this process through both the combinatorial assembly of V(D)J-genes and the junctional deletion and insertion of nucleotides. While the Artemis protein is often regarded as the main nuclease involved in V(D)J recombination, the exact mechanism of nucleotide trimming is not understood. Using a previously published TCRβ repertoire sequencing data set, we have designed a flexible probabilistic model of nucleotide trimming that allows us to explore various mechanistically interpretable sequence-level features. We show that local sequence context, length, and GC nucleotide content in both directions of the wider sequence, together, can most accurately predict the trimming probabilities of a given V-gene sequence. Because GC nucleotide content is predictive of sequence-breathing, this model provides quantitative statistical evidence regarding the extent to which double-stranded DNA may need to be able to breathe for trimming to occur. We also see evidence of a sequence motif that appears to get preferentially trimmed, independent of GC-content-related effects. Further, we find that the inferred coefficients from this model provide accurate prediction for V- and J-gene sequences from other adaptive immune receptor loci. These results refine our understanding of how the Artemis nuclease may function to trim nucleotides during V(D)J recombination and provide another step toward understanding how V(D)J recombination generates diverse receptors and supports a powerful, unique immune response in healthy humans.