Embryonic stem cells co-express Oct4 and Oct1, a related protein with similar DNA binding specificity. To study the role of Oct1 in ESC pluripotency and transcriptional control, we constructed germline and inducible-conditional Oct1 deficient ESC lines. ESCs lacking Oct1 show normal appearance, self-renewal and growth, but manifest defects upon differentiation. They fail to form beating cardiomyocytes, generate neurons poorly, form small, poorly differentiated teratomas, and cannot generate chimeric mice. Upon RA-mediated differentiation, Oct1 deficient cells induce lineage-appropriate developmentally poised genes poorly while lineage-inappropriate genes, including extra-embryonic genes, are inappropriately expressed. In ESCs Oct1 co-occupies a specific set of targets with Oct4, but does not occupy differentially expressed developmental targets. Instead, Oct1 occupies these targets as cells differentiate and Oct4 declines. These results identify a dynamic interplay between Oct1 and Oct4, in particular during the critical window immediately after loss of pluripotency when cells make the earliest developmental fate decisions.
Enforcement of developmental lineage specificity by transcription factor Oct1Publicly available at the NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus (accession no: GSE85063).
- Dean Tantin
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols (#14-06015) of the University of Utah. Every effort was made to minimize suffering.
- Clare Blackburn, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
© 2017, Shen 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.
Neural circuit formation and function require that diverse neurons are specified in appropriate numbers. Known strategies for controlling neuronal numbers involve regulating either cell proliferation or survival. We used the Drosophila visual system to probe how neuronal numbers are set. Photoreceptors from the eye-disc induce their target field, the lamina, such that for every unit eye there is a corresponding lamina unit (column). Although each column initially contains ~6 post-mitotic lamina precursors, only 5 differentiate into neurons, called L1-L5; the ‘extra’ precursor, which is invariantly positioned above the L5 neuron in each column, undergoes apoptosis. Here, we showed that a glial population called the outer chiasm giant glia (xgO), which resides below the lamina, secretes multiple ligands to induce L5 differentiation in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) from photoreceptors. By forcing neuronal differentiation in the lamina, we uncovered that though fated to die, the ‘extra’ precursor is specified as an L5. Therefore, two precursors are specified as L5s but only one differentiates during normal development. We found that the row of precursors nearest to xgO differentiate into L5s and, in turn, antagonise differentiation signalling to prevent the ‘extra’ precursors from differentiating, resulting in their death. Thus, an intricate interplay of glial signals and feedback from differentiating neurons defines an invariant and stereotyped pattern of neuronal differentiation and programmed cell death to ensure that lamina columns each contain exactly one L5 neuron.
During vertebrate embryogenesis, the germ layers are patterned by secreted Nodal signals. In the classical model, Nodals elicit signaling by binding to a complex comprising Type I/II Activin receptors (Acvr) and the co-receptor Tdgf1. However, it is currently unclear whether receptor binding can also affect the distribution of Nodals themselves through the embryo, and it is unknown which of the putative Acvr paralogs mediate Nodal signaling in zebrafish. Here, we characterize three Type I (Acvr1) and four Type II (Acvr2) homologs and show that - except for Acvr1c - all receptor-encoding transcripts are maternally deposited and present during zebrafish embryogenesis. We generated mutants and used them together with combinatorial morpholino knockdown and CRISPR F0 knockout (KO) approaches to assess compound loss-of-function phenotypes. We discovered that the Acvr2 homologs function partly redundantly and partially independently of Nodal to pattern the early zebrafish embryo, whereas the Type I receptors Acvr1b-a and Acvr1b-b redundantly act as major mediators of Nodal signaling. By combining quantitative analyses with expression manipulations, we found that feedback-regulated Type I receptors and co-receptors can directly influence the diffusion and distribution of Nodals, providing a mechanism for the spatial restriction of Nodal signaling during germ layer patterning.