Embryonic stem cell cultures are thought to self-organize into embryoid bodies, able to undergo symmetry-breaking, germ layer specification and even morphogenesis. Yet, it is unclear how to reconcile this remarkable self-organization capacity with classical experiments demonstrating key roles for extrinsic biases by maternal factors and/or extraembryonic tissues in embryogenesis. Here, we show that zebrafish embryonic tissue explants, prepared prior to germ layer induction and lacking extraembryonic tissues, can specify all germ layers and form a seemingly complete mesendoderm anlage. Importantly, explant organization requires polarized inheritance of maternal factors from dorsal-marginal regions of the blastoderm. Moreover, induction of endoderm and head-mesoderm, which require peak Nodal-signaling levels, is highly variable in explants, reminiscent of embryos with reduced Nodal signals from the extraembryonic tissues. Together, these data suggest that zebrafish explants do not undergo bona-fide self-organization, but rather display features of genetically encoded self-assembly, where intrinsic genetic programs control the emergence of order.
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- Carl-Philipp Heisenberg
- Alexandra Schauer
- Diana Pinheiro
- Diana Pinheiro
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All animal experiments in this study were performed in strict accordance with the guidelines of the Ethics and Animal Welfare Committee (ETK) in Austria. The respective approval number that covers the performed experiments is 66.018/0010-WF/II/3b/2014.
- Ashley Bruce
© 2020, Schauer 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.
SAS‑6 (SASS6) is essential for centriole formation in human cells and other organisms but its function in mouse is unclear. Here, we report that Sass6‑mutant mouse embryos lack centrioles, activate the mitotic surveillance cell death pathway and arrest at mid‑gestation. In contrast, SAS‑6 is not required for centriole formation in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), but is essential to maintain centriole architecture. Of note, centrioles appeared after just one day of culture of Sass6‑mutant blastocysts, from which mESCs are derived. Conversely, the number of cells with centrosomes is drastically decreased upon the exit from a mESC pluripotent state. At the mechanistic level, the activity of the master kinase in centriole formation, PLK4, associated with increased centriolar and centrosomal protein levels, endow mESCs with the robustness in using SAS‑6‑independent centriole-duplication pathways. Collectively, our data suggest a differential requirement for mouse SAS‑6 in centriole formation or integrity depending on PLK4 and centrosome composition.
The Hydra nervous system is the paradigm of a ‘simple nerve net’. Nerve cells in Hydra, as in many cnidarian polyps, are organized in a nerve net extending throughout the body column. This nerve net is required for control of spontaneous behavior: elimination of nerve cells leads to polyps that do not move and are incapable of capturing and ingesting prey (Campbell, 1976). We have re-examined the structure of the Hydra nerve net by immunostaining fixed polyps with a novel antibody that stains all nerve cells in Hydra. Confocal imaging shows that there are two distinct nerve nets, one in the ectoderm and one in the endoderm, with the unexpected absence of nerve cells in the endoderm of the tentacles. The nerve nets in the ectoderm and endoderm do not contact each other. High-resolution TEM (transmission electron microscopy) and serial block face SEM (scanning electron microscopy) show that the nerve nets consist of bundles of parallel overlapping neurites. Results from transgenic lines show that neurite bundles include different neural circuits and hence that neurites in bundles require circuit-specific recognition. Nerve cell-specific innexins indicate that gap junctions can provide this specificity. The occurrence of bundles of neurites supports a model for continuous growth and differentiation of the nerve net by lateral addition of new nerve cells to the existing net. This model was confirmed by tracking newly differentiated nerve cells.