A crucial step in cell differentiation is the silencing of developmental programs underlying multipotency. While much is known about how lineage-specific genes are activated to generate distinct cell types, the mechanisms driving suppression of stemness are far less understood. To address this, we examined the regulation of the transcriptional network that maintains progenitor identity in avian neural crest cells. Our results show that a regulatory circuit formed by Wnt, Lin28a and let-7 miRNAs controls the deployment and the subsequent silencing of the multipotency program in a position-dependent manner. Transition from multipotency to differentiation is determined by the topological relationship between the migratory cells and the dorsal neural tube, which acts as a Wnt-producing stem cell niche. Our findings highlight a mechanism that rapidly silences complex regulatory programs, and elucidate how transcriptional networks respond to positional information during cell differentiation.
All data generated for this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for all figures.
- Marcos Simoes-Costa
- Marcos Simoes-Costa
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Richard M White, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, United States
© 2018, Bhattacharya 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.
Development of the nervous system depends on signaling centers – specialized cellular populations that produce secreted molecules to regulate neurogenesis in the neighboring neuroepithelium. In some cases, signaling center cells also differentiate to produce key types of neurons. The formation of a signaling center involves its induction, the maintenance of expression of its secreted molecules, and cell differentiation and migration events. How these distinct processes are coordinated during signaling center development remains unknown. By performing studies in mice, we show that Lmx1a acts as a master regulator to orchestrate the formation and function of the cortical hem (CH), a critical signaling center that controls hippocampus development. Lmx1a co-regulates CH induction, its Wnt signaling, and the differentiation and migration of CH-derived Cajal–Retzius neurons. Combining RNAseq, genetic, and rescue experiments, we identified major downstream genes that mediate distinct Lmx1a-dependent processes. Our work revealed that signaling centers in the mammalian brain employ master regulatory genes and established a framework for analyzing signaling center development.
Cephalochordates and tunicates represent the only two groups of invertebrate chordates, and extant cephalochordates – commonly known as amphioxus or lancelets – are considered the best proxy for the chordate ancestor, from which they split around 520 million years ago. Amphioxus has been an important organism in the fields of zoology and embryology since the 18th century, and the morphological and genomic simplicity of cephalochordates (compared to vertebrates) makes amphioxus an attractive model for studying chordate biology at the cellular and molecular levels. Here we describe the life cycle of amphioxus, and discuss the natural histories and habitats of the different species of amphioxus. We also describe their use as laboratory animal models, and discuss the techniques that have been developed to study different aspects of amphioxus.