Publications

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2015
Perry, KJ, Lyons DC, Truchado-Garcia M, Fischer AHL, Helfrich LW, Johansson KB, Diamond JC, Grande C, Henry JQ.  2015.  Deployment of regulatory genes during gastrulation and germ layer specification in a model spiralian mollusc Crepidula. Developmental Dynamics. 244:1215-1248.   10.1002/dvdy.24308   AbstractWebsite

During gastrulation, endoderm and mesoderm are specified from a bipotential precursor (endomesoderm) that is argued to be homologous across bilaterians. Spiralians also generate mesoderm from ectodermal precursors (ectomesoderm), which arises near the blastopore. While a conserved gene regulatory network controls specification of endomesoderm in deuterostomes and ecdysozoans, little is known about genes controlling specification or behavior of either source of spiralian mesoderm or the digestive tract.: Using the mollusc Crepidula, we examined conserved regulatory factors and compared their expression to fate maps to score expression in the germ layers, blastopore lip, and digestive tract. Many genes were expressed in both ecto- and endomesoderm, but only five were expressed in ectomesoderm exclusively. The latter may contribute to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition seen in ectomesoderm. : We present the first comparison of genes expressed during spiralian gastrulation in the context of high-resolution fate maps. We found variation of genes expressed in the blastopore lip, mouth, and cells that will form the anus. Shared expression of many genes in both mesodermal sources suggests that components of the conserved endomesoderm program were either co-opted for ectomesoderm formation or that ecto- and endomesoderm are derived from a common mesodermal precursor that became subdivided into distinct domains during evolution. Developmental Dynamics 244:1215-1248, 2015. (c) 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

2014
Lyons, DC, Martik ML, Saunders LR, McClay DR.  2014.  Specification to biomineralization: Following a single cell type as it constructs a skeleton. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 54:723-733.   10.1093/icb/icu087   AbstractWebsite

The sea urchin larva is shaped by a calcite endoskeleton. That skeleton is built by 64 primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) in Lytechinus variegatus. The PMCs originate as micromeres due to an unequal fourth cleavage in the embryo. Micromeres are specified in a well-described molecular sequence and enter the blastocoel at a precise time using a classic epithelial-mesenchymal transition. To make the skeleton, the PMCs receive signaling inputs from the overlying ectoderm, which provides positional information as well as control of the growth of initial skeletal tri-radiates. The patterning of the skeleton is the result both of autonomous inputs from PMCs, including production of proteins that are included in the skeletal matrix, and of non-autonomous dynamic information from the ectoderm. Here, we summarize the wealth of information known about how a PMC contributes to the skeletal structure. The larval skeleton is a model for understanding how information encoded in DNA is translated into a three-dimensional crystalline structure.

Cheng, XR, Lyons DC, Socolar JES, McClay DR.  2014.  Delayed transition to new cell fates during cellular reprogramming. Developmental Biology. 391:147-157.   10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.04.015   AbstractWebsite

In many embryos specification toward one cell fate can be diverted to a different cell fate through a reprogramming process. Understanding how that process works will reveal insights into the developmental regulatory logic that emerged from evolution. In the sea urchin embryo, cells at gastrulation were found to reprogram and replace missing cell types after surgical dissections of the embryo. Non-skeletogenic mesoderm (NSM) cells reprogrammed to replace missing skeletogenic mesoderm cells and animal caps reprogrammed to replace all endomesoderm. In both cases evidence of reprogramming onset was first observed at the early gastrula stage, even if the cells to be replaced were removed earlier in development Once started however, the reprogramming occurred with compressed gene expression dynamics. The NSM did not require early contact with the skeletogenic cells to reprogram, but the animal cap cells gained the ability to reprogram early in gastrulation only after extended contact with the vegetal halves prior to that time. If the entire vegetal half was removed at early gastrula, the animal caps reprogrammed and replaced the vegetal half endomesoderm. If the animal caps carried morpholinos to either hox11/13b or foxA (endomesoderm specification genes), the isolated animal caps failed to reprogram. Together these data reveal that the emergence of a reprogramming capability occurs at early gastrulation in the sea urchin embryo and requires activation of early specification components of the target tissues. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.