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A novel role for lunatic fringe in the development of epaxial musculature

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Skeletal muscles arise from the myotome compartment of the somites that form during vertebrate embryonic development. Somites are transient structures serve as the anlagen for the axial skeleton, skeletal muscle, tendons, and dermis, as well as imposing the metameric patterning

Skeletal muscles arise from the myotome compartment of the somites that form during vertebrate embryonic development. Somites are transient structures serve as the anlagen for the axial skeleton, skeletal muscle, tendons, and dermis, as well as imposing the metameric patterning of the axial musculoskeletal system, peripheral nerves, and vasculature. Classic studies have described the role of Notch, Wnt, and FGF signaling pathways in controlling somite formation and muscle formation. However, little is known about the transformation of myotome compartments into identifiable post-natal muscle groups. Using a mouse model, I have undertaken an evaluation of morphological events, including hypertrophy and hyperplasia, related to the formation of several muscles positioned along the dorsal surface of the vertebrae and ribs. Lunatic fringe (Lfng) deficient embryos and neonates were also examined to further understand the role of the Notch pathway in these processes as it is a modulator of the Notch receptor and plays an important role in defining somite borders and anterior-posterior patterning in many vertebrates. Lunatic fringe deficient embryos showed defects in muscle fiber hyperplasia and hypertrophy in the iliocostalis and longissimus muscles of the erector spinae group. This novel data suggests an additional role for Lfng and the Notch signaling pathway in embryonic and fetal muscle development.

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Date Created
2012

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The role of PARAXIS as a mediator of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions during the development of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system

Description

The development of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system is a highly dynamic process, requiring tight control of the specification and patterning of myogenic, chondrogenic and tenogenic cell types. Development of the diverse musculoskeletal lineages from a common embryonic origin in the

The development of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system is a highly dynamic process, requiring tight control of the specification and patterning of myogenic, chondrogenic and tenogenic cell types. Development of the diverse musculoskeletal lineages from a common embryonic origin in the paraxial mesoderm indicates the presence of a regulatory network of transcription factors that direct lineage decisions. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, PARAXIS, is expressed in the paraxial mesoderm during vertebrate somitogenesis, where it has been shown to play a critical role in the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition associated with somitogenesis, and the development of the hypaxial skeletal musculature and axial skeleton. In an effort to elucidate the underlying genetic mechanism by which PARAXIS regulates the musculoskeletal system, I performed a microarray-based, genome-wide analysis comparing transcription levels in the somites of Paraxis-/- and Paraxis+/+ embryos. This study revealed targets of PARAXIS involved in multiple aspects of mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition, including Fap and Dmrt2, which modulate cell-extracellular matrix adhesion. Additionally, in the epaxial dermomyotome, PARAXIS activates the expression of the integrin subunits a4 and a6, which bind fibronectin and laminin, respectively, and help organize the patterning of trunk skeletal muscle. Finally, PARAXIS activates the expression of genes required for the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and migration of hypaxial myoblasts into the limb, including Lbx1 and Met. Together, these data point to a role for PARAXIS in the morphogenetic control of musculoskeletal patterning.

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Date Created
2013

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Insights towards developing regenerative therapies: the lizard, Anolis carolinensis, as a genetic model for regeneration in amniotes

Description

Damage to the central nervous system due to spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, as well as degenerative musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, drastically impact the quality of life. Regeneration of complex structures is quite limited in mammals, though other

Damage to the central nervous system due to spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, as well as degenerative musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, drastically impact the quality of life. Regeneration of complex structures is quite limited in mammals, though other vertebrates possess this ability. Lizards are the most closely related organism to humans that can regenerate de novo skeletal muscle, hyaline cartilage, spinal cord, vasculature, and skin. Progress in studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lizard regeneration has previously been limited by a lack of genomic resources. Building on the release of the genome of the green anole, Anolis carolinensis, we developed a second generation, robust RNA-Seq-based genome annotation, and performed the first transcriptomic analysis of tail regeneration in this species. In order to investigate gene expression in regenerating tissue, we performed whole transcriptome and microRNA transcriptome analysis of regenerating tail tip and base and associated tissues, identifying key genetic targets in the regenerative process. These studies have identified components of a genetic program for regeneration in the lizard that includes both developmental and adult repair mechanisms shared with mammals, indicating value in the translation of these findings to future regenerative therapies.

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Date Created
2015

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Comparative genomics and novel bioinformatics methodology applied to the green anole reveal unique sex chromosome evolution

Description

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes can result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes can result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage compensation is a process whereby genes on the sex chromosomes achieve equal gene expression which prevents deleterious side effects from having too much or too little expression of genes on sex chromsomes. The green anole is part of a group of species that recently underwent an adaptive radiation. The green anole has XX/XY sex determination, but the content of the X chromosome and its evolution have not been described. Given its status as a model species, better understanding the green anole genome could reveal insights into other species. Genomic analyses are crucial for a comprehensive picture of sex chromosome differentiation and dosage compensation, in addition to understanding speciation.

In order to address this, multiple comparative genomics and bioinformatics analyses were conducted to elucidate patterns of evolution in the green anole and across multiple anole species. Comparative genomics analyses were used to infer additional X-linked loci in the green anole, RNAseq data from male and female samples were anayzed to quantify patterns of sex-biased gene expression across the genome, and the extent of dosage compensation on the anole X chromosome was characterized, providing evidence that the sex chromosomes in the green anole are dosage compensated.

In addition, X-linked genes have a lower ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitution rates than the autosomes when compared to other Anolis species, and pairwise rates of evolution in genes across the anole genome were analyzed. To conduct this analysis a new pipeline was created for filtering alignments and performing batch calculations for whole genome coding sequences. This pipeline has been made publicly available.

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Date Created
2016