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Pinto P.B.,University of Seville | Pinto P.B.,Center for Organismal Studies | Espinosa-Vazquez J.M.,University of Seville | Rivas M.iL.i,University of Seville | Hombria J.C.-G.,University of Seville
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2015

Organogenesis is controlled by gene networks activated by upstream selector genes. During development the gene network is activated stepwise, with a sequential deployment of successive transcription factors and signalling molecules that modify the interaction of the elements of the network as the organ forms. Very little is known about the steps leading from the early specification of the cells that form the organ primordium to the moment when a robust gene network is in place. Here we study in detail how a Hox protein induces during early embryogenesis a simple organogenetic cascade that matures into a complex gene network through the activation of feedback and feed forward interaction loops. To address how the network organization changes during development and how the target genes integrate the genetic information it provides, we analyze in Drosophila the induction of posterior spiracle organogenesis by the Hox gene Abdominal-B (Abd-B). Initially, Abd-B activates in the spiracle primordium a cascade of transcription factors and signalling molecules including the JAK/STAT signalling pathway. We find that at later stages STAT activity feeds back directly into Abd-B, initiating the transformation of the Hox cascade into a gene-network. Focusing on crumbs, a spiracle downstream target gene of Abd-B, we analyze how a modular cis regulatory element integrates the dynamic network information set by Abd-B and the JAK/STAT signalling pathway during development. We describe how a Hox induced genetic cascade transforms into a robust gene network during organogenesis due to the repeated interaction of Abd-B and one of its targets, the JAK/STAT signalling cascade. Our results show that in this network STAT functions not just as a direct transcription factor, but also acts as a "counter-repressor", uncovering a novel mode for STAT directed transcriptional regulation. © 2015 Pinto et al.


PubMed | Center for Organismal Studies, University of Vienna, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology and 5 more.
Type: | Journal: Trends in neurosciences | Year: 2017

The nervous systems of cnidarians, pre-bilaterian animals that diverged close to the base of the metazoan radiation, are structurally simple and thus have great potential to reveal fundamental principles of neural circuits. Unfortunately, cnidarians have thus far been relatively intractable to electrophysiological and genetic techniques and consequently have been largely passed over by neurobiologists. However, recent advances in molecular and imaging methods are fueling a renaissance of interest in and research into cnidarians nervous systems. Here, we review current knowledge on the nervous systems of cnidarian species and propose that researchers should seize this opportunity and undertake the study of members of this phylum as strategic experimental systems with great basic and translational relevance for neuroscience.


Holzer T.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Liffers K.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Rahm K.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Trageser B.,Center for Organismal Studies | And 2 more authors.
FEBS Letters | Year: 2012

For almost 30 years, Wnt proteins have been known as key regulators of many developmental decisions, including the formation of the embryonic axes, patterning of the CNS, limb bud outgrowth and segment polarity. However, live cell imaging of active Wnt proteins was rarely reported. Here, we have generated a Wnt2b-EGFP fusion protein that retains functionality in bona fide Wnt activity assays, although the secreted protein is rapidly cleaved by extracellular proteases. We can show with this new tool that Wnt2b-EGFP moves along the microtubules of Wnt producing cells and that this directed movement is essential for the secretion of active Wnt protein. © 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Mazaheri F.,European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL Heidelberg | Breus O.,European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL Heidelberg | Durdu S.,Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit | Haas P.,Center for Organismal Studies | And 4 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2014

The removal of dying neurons by microglia has a key role during both development and in several diseases. To date, little is known about the cellular and molecular processes underlying neuronal engulfment in the brain. Here we took a live imaging approach to quantify neuronal cell death progression in embryonic zebrafish brains and studied the response of microglia. We show that microglia engulf dying neurons by extending cellular branches that form phagosomes at their tips. At the molecular level we found that microglia lacking the phosphatidylserine receptors BAI1 and TIM-4, are able to recognize the apoptotic targets but display distinct clearance defects. Indeed, BAI1 controls the formation of phagosomes around dying neurons and cargo transport, whereas TIM-4 is required for phagosome stabilization. Using this single-cell resolution approach we established that it is the combined activity of BAI1 and TIM-4 that allows microglia to remove dying neurons. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Althoff F.,University of Heidelberg | Althoff F.,Max Planck Institute for Chemistry | Benzing K.,University of Heidelberg | Comba P.,University of Heidelberg | And 5 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2014

Methane in the environment is produced by both biotic and abiotic processes. Biomethanation involves the formation of methane by microbes that live in oxygen-free environments. Abiotic methane formation proceeds under conditions at elevated temperature and/or pressure. Here we present a chemical reaction that readily forms methane from organosulphur compounds under highly oxidative conditions at ambient atmospheric pressure and temperature. When using iron(II/III), hydrogen peroxide and ascorbic acid as reagents, S-methyl groups of organosulphur compounds are efficiently converted into methane. In a first step, methyl sulphides are oxidized to the corresponding sulphoxides. In the next step, demethylation of the sulphoxide via homolytic bond cleavage leads to methyl radical formation and finally to methane in high yields. Because sulphoxidation of methyl sulphides is ubiquitous in the environment, this novel chemical route might mimic methane formation in living aerobic organisms. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Yokoyama H.,University of Heidelberg | Koch B.,European Molecular Biology Laboratory | Walczak R.,European Molecular Biology Laboratory | Ciray-Duygu F.,University of Heidelberg | And 4 more authors.
Nature communications | Year: 2014

The GTP-bound form of the Ran GTPase (RanGTP), produced around chromosomes, drives nuclear envelope and nuclear pore complex (NPC) re-assembly after mitosis. The nucleoporin MEL-28/ELYS binds chromatin in a RanGTP-regulated manner and acts to seed NPC assembly. Here we show that, upon mitotic NPC disassembly, MEL-28 dissociates from chromatin and re-localizes to spindle microtubules and kinetochores. MEL-28 directly binds microtubules in a RanGTP-regulated way via its C-terminal chromatin-binding domain. Using Xenopus egg extracts, we demonstrate that MEL-28 is essential for RanGTP-dependent microtubule nucleation and spindle assembly, independent of its function in NPC assembly. Specifically, MEL-28 interacts with the γ-tubulin ring complex and recruits it to microtubule nucleation sites. Our data identify MEL-28 as a RanGTP target that functions throughout the cell cycle. Its cell cycle-dependent binding to chromatin or microtubules discriminates MEL-28 functions in interphase and mitosis, and ensures that spindle assembly occurs only after NPC breakdown.


PubMed | Agri Food and Biosciences Institute of Northern Ireland, Center for Organismal Studies, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, University of Heidelberg and Queen's University of Belfast
Type: | Journal: Nature communications | Year: 2014

Methane in the environment is produced by both biotic and abiotic processes. Biomethanation involves the formation of methane by microbes that live in oxygen-free environments. Abiotic methane formation proceeds under conditions at elevated temperature and/or pressure. Here we present a chemical reaction that readily forms methane from organosulphur compounds under highly oxidative conditions at ambient atmospheric pressure and temperature. When using iron(II/III), hydrogen peroxide and ascorbic acid as reagents, S-methyl groups of organosulphur compounds are efficiently converted into methane. In a first step, methyl sulphides are oxidized to the corresponding sulphoxides. In the next step, demethylation of the sulphoxide via homolytic bond cleavage leads to methyl radical formation and finally to methane in high yields. Because sulphoxidation of methyl sulphides is ubiquitous in the environment, this novel chemical route might mimic methane formation in living aerobic organisms.


PubMed | European Molecular Biology Laboratory, University of Heidelberg and Center for Organismal Studies
Type: | Journal: Nature communications | Year: 2014

The GTP-bound form of the Ran GTPase (RanGTP), produced around chromosomes, drives nuclear envelope and nuclear pore complex (NPC) re-assembly after mitosis. The nucleoporin MEL-28/ELYS binds chromatin in a RanGTP-regulated manner and acts to seed NPC assembly. Here we show that, upon mitotic NPC disassembly, MEL-28 dissociates from chromatin and re-localizes to spindle microtubules and kinetochores. MEL-28 directly binds microtubules in a RanGTP-regulated way via its C-terminal chromatin-binding domain. Using Xenopus egg extracts, we demonstrate that MEL-28 is essential for RanGTP-dependent microtubule nucleation and spindle assembly, independent of its function in NPC assembly. Specifically, MEL-28 interacts with the -tubulin ring complex and recruits it to microtubule nucleation sites. Our data identify MEL-28 as a RanGTP target that functions throughout the cell cycle. Its cell cycle-dependent binding to chromatin or microtubules discriminates MEL-28 functions in interphase and mitosis, and ensures that spindle assembly occurs only after NPC breakdown.


Walentek P.,University of Hohenheim | Beyer T.,University of Hohenheim | Thumberger T.,University of Hohenheim | Thumberger T.,Center for Organismal Studies | And 2 more authors.
Cell Reports | Year: 2012

Most vertebrate embryos break symmetry by a cilia-driven leftward flow during neurulation. In the frog . Xenopus asymmetric expression of the ion pump . ATP4a was reported at the 4-cell stage. The " ion-flux" model postulates that symmetry is broken flow-independently through an ATP4-generated asymmetric voltage gradient that drives serotonin through gap junctions to one side of the embryo. Here, we show that . ATP4a is symmetrically expressed. Gene knockdown or pharmacological inhibition compromised organ situs, asymmetric marker gene expression, and leftward flow. The gastrocoel roof plate (GRP), where flow in frog occurs, revealed fewer, shortened, and misaligned cilia. . Foxj1, a master control gene of motile cilia, was downregulated in the superficial mesoderm, from which the GRP develops. Specifically, ATP4 was required for Wnt/β-catenin-regulated . Foxj1 induction and Wnt/PCP-dependent cilia polarization. Our work argues for evolutionary conservation of symmetry breakage in the vertebrates.


Assmann M.,RWTH Aachen | Kuhn A.,Center for Organismal Studies | Durrnagel S.,RWTH Aachen | Holstein T.W.,Center for Organismal Studies | Grunder S.,RWTH Aachen
BMC Biology | Year: 2014

Background: It is generally the case that fast transmission at neural synapses is mediated by small molecule neurotransmitters. The simple nervous system of the cnidarian Hydra, however, contains a large repertoire of neuropeptides and it has been suggested that neuropeptides are the principal transmitters of Hydra. An ion channel directly gated by Hydra-RFamide neuropeptides has indeed been identified in Hydra - the Hydra Na+ channel (HyNaC) 2/3/5, which is expressed at the oral side of the tentacle base. Hydra-RFamides are more widely expressed, however, being found in neurons of the head and peduncle region. Here, we explore whether further peptide-gated HyNaCs exist, where in the animal they are expressed, and whether they are all gated by Hydra-RFamides. Results: We report molecular cloning of seven new HyNaC subunits - HyNaC6 to HyNaC12, all of which are members of the DEG/ENaC gene family. In Xenopus oocytes, these subunits assemble together with the four already known subunits into thirteen different ion channels that are directly gated by Hydra-RFamide neuropeptides with high affinity (up to 40 nM). In situ hybridization suggests that HyNaCs are expressed in epitheliomuscular cells at the oral and the aboral side of the tentacle base and at the peduncle. Moreover, diminazene, an inhibitor of HyNaCs, delayed tentacle movement in live Hydra. Conclusions: Our results show that Hydra has a large variety of peptide-gated ion channels that are activated by a restricted number of related neuropeptides. The existence and expression pattern of these channels, and behavioral effects induced by channel blockers, suggests that Hydra co-opted neuropeptides for fast neuromuscular transmission. © 2014 Assmann et al.

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