Basal cells are multipotent stem cells of a variety of organs, including the respiratory tract, where they are major components of the airway epithelium. However, it remains unclear how diverse basal cells are, and how distinct subpopulations respond to airway challenges. Using single cell RNA-sequencing and functional approaches, we report a significant and previously underappreciated degree of heterogeneity in the basal cell pool, leading to identification of six subpopulations in the adult murine trachea. Among these, we found two major subpopulations collectively comprising the most uncommitted of all the pool, but with distinct gene expression signatures. Notably, these occupy distinct ventral and dorsal tracheal niches and differ in their ability to self-renew and initiate a program of differentiation in response to environmental perturbations in primary cultures and in mouse injury models in vivo. We found that such heterogeneity is acquired prenatally, when the basal cell pool and local niches are still being established, and depends on the integrity of these niches, as supported by the altered basal cell phenotype of tracheal cartilage-deficient mouse mutants. Lastly, we show that features that distinguish these progenitor subpopulations in murine airways are conserved in humans. Together, the data provide novel insights into the origin and impact of basal cell heterogeneity on the establishment of regionally distinct responses of the airway epithelium during injury-repair and in disease conditions.
scRNA-Seq data for mouse trachea BCs described in the manuscript have been deposited at the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) under accession number GSE134064. It can also be explored through MmTrBC data portal at http://visualify.pharmacy.arizona.edu/MmTrBC/
scRNA-Seq of Mouse Trachea Basal CellsNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE134064.
- Wellington V Cardoso
- Debora Sinner
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All studies were approved by the Columbia University Institutional Animal Care and Use committees (WVC IACUC #: AC-AABF2567,) and CCHMC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (DS IACUC #: 2021-0053).
- Edward E Morrisey, University of Pennsylvania, United States
© 2022, Zhou 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.
Neuroblasts in Drosophila divide asymmetrically, sequentially expressing a series of intrinsic factors to generate a diversity of neuron types. These intrinsic factors known as temporal factors dictate timing of neuroblast transitions in response to steroid hormone signaling and specify early versus late temporal fates in neuroblast neuron progeny. After completing their temporal programs, neuroblasts differentiate or die, finalizing both neuron number and type within each neuroblast lineage. From a screen aimed at identifying genes required to terminate neuroblast divisions, we identified Notch and Notch pathway components. When Notch is knocked down, neuroblasts maintain early temporal factor expression longer, delay late temporal factor expression, and continue dividing into adulthood. We find that Delta, expressed in cortex glia, neuroblasts, and after division, their GMC progeny, regulates neuroblast Notch activity. We also find that Delta in neuroblasts is expressed high early, low late, and is controlled by the intrinsic temporal program: early factor Imp promotes Delta, late factors Syp/E93 reduce Delta. Thus, in addition to systemic steroid hormone cues, forward lineage progression is controlled by local cell-cell signaling between neuroblasts and their cortex glia/GMC neighbors: Delta transactivates Notch in neuroblasts bringing the early temporal program and early temporal factor expression to a close.
The fusion of mammalian gametes requires the interaction between IZUMO1 on the sperm and JUNO on the oocyte. We have recently shown that ectopic expression of mouse IZUMO1 induces cell-cell fusion and that sperm can fuse to fibroblasts expressing JUNO. Here, we found that the incubation of mouse sperm with hamster fibroblasts or human epithelial cells in culture induces the fusion between these somatic cells and the formation of syncytia, a pattern previously observed with some animal viruses. This sperm-induced cell-cell fusion requires a species-matching JUNO on both fusing cells, can be blocked by an antibody against IZUMO1, and does not rely on the synthesis of new proteins. The fusion is dependent on the sperm’s fusogenic capacity, making this a reliable, fast, and simple method for predicting sperm function during the diagnosis of male infertility.