Alveolar formation requires coordinated movement and interaction between alveolar epithelial cells, mesenchymal myofibroblasts and endothelial cells/pericytes to produce secondary septa. These processes rely on the acquisition of distinct cellular properties to enable ligand secretion for cell-cell signaling and initiate morphogenesis through cellular contraction, cell migration and cell shape change. In this study, we showed that mitochondrial activity and distribution play a key role in bestowing cellular functions on both alveolar epithelial cells and mesenchymal myofibroblasts for generating secondary septa to form alveoli in mice. These results suggest that mitochondrial function is tightly regulated to empower cellular machineries in a spatially-specific manner. Indeed, such regulation via mitochondria is required for secretion of ligands, such as platelet-derived growth factor, from alveolar epithelial cells to influence myofibroblast proliferation and contraction/migration. Moreover, mitochondrial function enables myofibroblast contraction/migration during alveolar formation. Together, these findings yield novel mechanistic insights into how mitochondria regulate pivotal steps of alveologenesis. They highlight selective utilization of energy in cells and diverse energy demands in different cellular processes during development. Our work serves as a paradigm for studying how mitochondria control tissue patterning.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. This study does not generate source data files that need to be deposited.
- Pao-Tien Chuang
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 of the University of California, San Francisco. The protocol was approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of the University of of California, San Francisco (Approval Number: AN187712-01).
- Melanie Königshoff, University of Pittsburgh, United States
- Received: March 20, 2021
- Accepted: April 5, 2022
- Accepted Manuscript published: April 6, 2022 (version 1)
© 2022, Zhang 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.
Cells sense and integrate external information from diverse sources that include mechanical cues. Shaping of tissues during development may thus require coordination between mechanical forces from morphogenesis and cell-cell signalling to confer appropriate changes in gene expression. By live-imaging Notch-induced transcription in real time we have discovered that morphogenetic movements during Drosophila gastrulation bring about an increase in activity-levels of a Notch responsive enhancer. Mutations that disrupt the timing of gastrulation resulted in concomitant delays in transcription up-regulation that correlated with the start of mesoderm invagination. As a similar gastrulation-induced effect was detected when transcription was elicited by the intracellular domain NICD, it cannot be attributed to forces exerted on Notch receptor activation. A Notch independent vnd enhancer also exhibited a modest gastrulation-induced activity increase in the same stripe of cells. Together, these observations argue that gastrulation-associated forces act on the nucleus to modulate transcription levels. This regulation was uncoupled when the complex linking the nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) was disrupted, indicating a likely conduit. We propose that the coupling between tissue level mechanics, arising from gastrulation, and enhancer activity represents a general mechanism for ensuring correct tissue specification during development and that Notch dependent enhancers are highly sensitive to this regulation.
During formation of the mammalian placenta, trophoblasts invade the maternal decidua and remodel spiral arteries to bring maternal blood into the placenta. This process, known as endovascular invasion, is thought to involve the adoption of functional characteristics of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) by trophoblasts. The genetic and molecular basis of endovascular invasion remains poorly defined, however, and whether trophoblasts utilize specialized endothelial proteins in an analogous manner to create vascular channels remains untested. Vascular endothelial (VE-)cadherin is a homotypic adhesion protein that is expressed selectively by ECs in which it enables formation of tight vessels and regulation of EC junctions. VE-cadherin is also expressed in invasive trophoblasts and is a prime candidate for a molecular mechanism of endovascular invasion by those cells. Here, we show that VE-cadherin is required for trophoblast migration and endovascular invasion into the maternal decidua in the mouse. VE-cadherin deficiency results in loss of spiral artery remodeling that leads to decreased flow of maternal blood into the placenta, fetal growth restriction, and death. These studies identify a non-endothelial role for VE-cadherin in trophoblasts during placental development and suggest that endothelial proteins may play functionally unique roles in trophoblasts that do not simply mimic those in ECs.