Planar cell polarity (PCP) and neural tube defects (NTDs) are linked, with a subset of NTD patients found to harbour mutations in PCP genes, but there is limited data on whether these mutations disrupt PCP signaling in vivo. The core PCP gene Van Gogh (Vang), Vangl1/2 in mammals, is the most specific for PCP. We thus addressed potential causality of NTD-associated Vangl1/2 mutations, from either mouse or human patients, in Drosophila allowing intricate analysis of the PCP pathway. Introducing the respective mammalian mutations into Drosophila Vang revealed defective phenotypic and functional behaviors, with changes to Vang localization, post-translational modification, and mechanistic function, such as its ability to interact with PCP effectors. Our findings provide mechanistic insight into how different mammalian mutations contribute to developmental disorders and strengthen the link between PCP and NTD. Importantly, analyses of the human mutations revealed that each is a causative factor for the associated NTD.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 1, 2 and 5.
- Marek Mlodzik
- Marek Mlodzik
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Hugo J Bellen, Baylor College of Medicine, United States
© 2020, Humphries 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.
Posterior urethral valves (PUV) are the commonest cause of end-stage renal disease in children, but the genetic architecture of this rare disorder remains unknown. We performed a sequencing-based genome-wide association study (seqGWAS) in 132 unrelated male PUV cases and 23,727 controls of diverse ancestry, identifying statistically significant associations with common variants at 12q24.21 (p=7.8 × 10−12; OR 0.4) and rare variants at 6p21.1 (p=2.0 × 10-8; OR 7.2), that were replicated in an independent European cohort of 395 cases and 4151 controls. Fine mapping and functional genomic data mapped these loci to the transcription factor TBX5 and planar cell polarity gene PTK7, respectively, the encoded proteins of which were detected in the developing urinary tract of human embryos. We also observed enrichment of rare structural variation intersecting with candidate cis-regulatory elements, particularly inversions predicted to affect chromatin looping (p=3.1 × 10-5). These findings represent the first robust genetic associations of PUV, providing novel insights into the underlying biology of this poorly understood disorder and demonstrate how a diverse ancestry seqGWAS can be used for disease locus discovery in a rare disease.
The neural crest (NC) is an important multipotent embryonic cell population and its impaired specification leads to various developmental defects, often in an anteroposterior (A-P) axial level-specific manner. The mechanisms underlying the correct A-P regionalisation of human NC cells remain elusive. Recent studies have indicated that trunk NC cells, the presumed precursors of the childhood tumour neuroblastoma, are derived from neuromesodermal-potent progenitors of the postcranial body (NMPs). Here we employ human embryonic stem cell differentiation to define how NMP-derived NC cells acquire a posterior axial identity. We show that TBXT, a pro-mesodermal transcription factor, mediates early posterior NC/spinal cord regionalisation together with WNT signalling effectors. This occurs by TBXT-driven chromatin remodelling via its binding in key enhancers within HOX gene clusters and other posterior regulator-associated loci. This initial posteriorisation event is succeeded by a second phase of trunk HOX gene control that marks the differentiation of NMPs toward their TBXT-negative NC/spinal cord derivatives and relies predominantly on FGF signalling. Our work reveals a previously unknown role of TBXT in influencing posterior NC fate and points to the existence of temporally discrete, cell type-dependent modes of posterior axial identity control.