Somatic cell nuclear transfer has established that the oocyte contains maternal factors with epigenetic reprogramming capacity. Yet the identity and function of these maternal factors during the gamete to embryo transition remains poorly understood. In C. elegans, LSD1/KDM1A enables this transition by removing H3K4me2 and preventing the transgenerational inheritance of transcription patterns. Here we show that loss of maternal LSD1/KDM1A in mice results in embryonic arrest at the 1-2 cell stage, with arrested embryos failing to undergo the maternal-to-zygotic transition. This suggests that LSD1/KDM1A maternal reprogramming is conserved. Moreover, partial loss of maternal LSD1/KDM1A results in striking phenotypes weeks after fertilization; including perinatal lethality and abnormal behavior in surviving adults. These maternal effect hypomorphic phenotypes are associated with alterations in DNA methylation and expression at imprinted genes. These results establish a novel mammalian paradigm where defects in early epigenetic reprogramming can lead to defects that manifest later in development.
Animal experimentation: All mouse work was performed under the approved guidelines of the Emory University IACUC (protocol #2002534).
- Anne C Ferguson-Smith, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
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A growing body of evidence suggests that cell division and basement membrane invasion are mutually exclusive cellular behaviors. How cells switch between proliferative and invasive states is not well understood. Here, we investigated this dichotomy in vivo by examining two cell types in the developing Caenorhabditis elegans somatic gonad that derive from equipotent progenitors, but exhibit distinct cell behaviors: the post-mitotic, invasive anchor cell and the neighboring proliferative, non-invasive ventral uterine (VU) cells. We show that the fates of these cells post-specification are more plastic than previously appreciated and that levels of NHR-67 are important for discriminating between invasive and proliferative behavior. Transcription of NHR-67 is downregulated following post-translational degradation of its direct upstream regulator, HLH-2 (E/Daughterless) in VU cells. In the nuclei of VU cells, residual NHR-67 protein is compartmentalized into discrete punctae that are dynamic over the cell cycle and exhibit liquid-like properties. By screening for proteins that colocalize with NHR-67 punctae, we identified new regulators of uterine cell fate maintenance: homologs of the transcriptional co-repressor Groucho (UNC-37 and LSY-22), as well as the TCF/LEF homolog POP-1. We propose a model in which the association of NHR-67 with the Groucho/TCF complex suppresses the default invasive state in non-invasive cells, which complements transcriptional regulation to add robustness to the proliferative-invasive cellular switch in vivo.
Imaging experiments reveal the complex and dynamic nature of the transcriptional hubs associated with Notch signaling.