Publications by authors named "Andrew T Major"

19 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Chickens, Sex, and Revisiting an Old Paradigm.

Endocrinology 2021 Jul;162(7)

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqab106DOI Listing
July 2021

The Curious Case of Avian Sex Determination.

Trends Genet 2021 06 8;37(6):496-497. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia.

Ioannidis and colleagues show that the gene DMRT1 is the master regulator of testis development in the chicken. Yet, remarkably, when this gene is deleted in genetic males and gonads form ovaries, the body remains male. This debunks the notion that somatic sex is driven primarily by hormones in birds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tig.2021.03.006DOI Listing
June 2021

Anatomy, Endocrine Regulation, and Embryonic Development of the Rete Testis.

Endocrinology 2021 Jun;162(6)

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, 3800, Australia.

Reproduction in males requires the transfer of spermatozoa from testis tubules via the rete system to the efferent ductules, epididymis, and vas deferens. The rete therefore forms an essential bridging system between the testis and excurrent ducts. Yet the embryonic origin and molecular regulation of rete testis development is poorly understood. This review examines the anatomy, endocrine control, and development of the mammalian rete testis, focusing on recent findings on its molecular regulation, identifying gaps in our knowledge, and identifying areas for future research. The rete testis develops in close association with Sertoli cells of the seminiferous cords, although unique molecular markers are sparce. Most recently, modern molecular approaches such as global RNA-seq have revealed the transcriptional signature of rete cell precursors, pointing to at least a partial common origin with Sertoli cells. In the mouse, genes involved in Sertoli cell development or maintenance, such as Sox9, Wt1, Sf1, and Dmrt1, are also expressed in cells of the rete system. Rete progenitor cells also express unique markers, such as Pax8, E-cadherin, and keratin 8. These must directly or indirectly regulate the physical joining of testis tubules to the efferent duct system and confer other physiological functions of the rete. The application of technologies such as single-cell RNA-seq will clarify the origin and developmental trajectory of this essential component of the male reproductive tract.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqab046DOI Listing
June 2021

Gonadal Sex Differentiation: Supporting Versus Steroidogenic Cell Lineage Specification in Mammals and Birds.

Front Cell Dev Biol 2020 18;8:616387. Epub 2020 Dec 18.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia.

The gonads of vertebrate embryos are unique among organs because they have a developmental choice; ovary or testis formation. Given the importance of proper gonad formation for sexual development and reproduction, considerable research has been conducted over the years to elucidate the genetic and cellular mechanisms of gonad formation and sexual differentiation. While the molecular trigger for gonadal sex differentiation into ovary of testis can vary among vertebrates, from egg temperature to sex-chromosome linked master genes, the downstream molecular pathways are largely conserved. The cell biology of gonadal formation and differentiation has long thought to also be conserved. However, recent discoveries point to divergent mechanisms of gonad formation, at least among birds and mammals. In this mini-review, we provide an overview of cell lineage allocation during gonadal sex differentiation in the mouse model, focusing on the key supporting and steroidogenic cells and drawing on recent insights provided by single cell RNA-sequencing. We compare this data with emerging information in the chicken model. We highlight surprising differences in cell lineage specification between species and identify gaps in our current understanding of the cell biology underlying gonadogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2020.616387DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775416PMC
December 2020

Transcriptional landscape of the embryonic chicken Müllerian duct.

BMC Genomics 2020 Oct 2;21(1):688. Epub 2020 Oct 2.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC, 3800, Australia.

Background: Müllerian ducts are paired embryonic tubes that give rise to the female reproductive tract in vertebrates. Many disorders of female reproduction can be attributed to anomalies of Müllerian duct development. However, the molecular genetics of Müllerian duct formation is poorly understood and most disorders of duct development have unknown etiology. In this study, we describe for the first time the transcriptional landscape of the embryonic Müllerian duct, using the chicken embryo as a model system. RNA sequencing was conducted at 1 day intervals during duct formation to identify developmentally-regulated genes, validated by in situ hybridization.

Results: This analysis detected hundreds of genes specifically up-regulated during duct morphogenesis. Gene ontology and pathway analysis revealed enrichment for developmental pathways associated with cell adhesion, cell migration and proliferation, ERK and WNT signaling, and, interestingly, axonal guidance. The latter included factors linked to neuronal cell migration or axonal outgrowth, such as Ephrin B2, netrin receptor, SLIT1 and class A semaphorins. A number of transcriptional modules were identified that centred around key hub genes specifying matrix-associated signaling factors; SPOCK1, HTRA3 and ADGRD1. Several novel regulators of the WNT and TFG-β signaling pathway were identified in Müllerian ducts, including APCDD1 and DKK1, BMP3 and TGFBI. A number of novel transcription factors were also identified, including OSR1, FOXE1, PRICKLE1, TSHZ3 and SMARCA2. In addition, over 100 long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were expressed during duct formation.

Conclusions: This study provides a rich resource of new candidate genes for Müllerian duct development and its disorders. It also sheds light on the molecular pathways engaged during tubulogenesis, a fundamental process in embryonic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-020-07106-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7532620PMC
October 2020

Adhesion G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR56, is required for Müllerian duct development in the chick.

J Endocrinol 2020 02;244(2):395-413

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

The embryonic Müllerian ducts give rise to the female reproductive tract (fallopian tubes, uterus and upper vagina in humans, the oviducts in birds). Embryonic Müllerian ducts initially develop in both sexes, but later regress in males under the influence of anti-Müllerian hormone. While the molecular and endocrine control of duct regression in males have been well studied, early development of the ducts in both sexes is less well understood. Here, we describe a novel role for the adhesion G protein-coupled receptor, GPR56, in development of the Müllerian ducts in the chicken embryo. GPR56 is expressed in the ducts of both sexes from early stages. The mRNA is present during the elongation phase of duct formation, and it is restricted to the inner Müllerian duct epithelium. The putative ligand, Collagen III, is abundantly expressed in the Müllerian duct at the same developmental stages. Knockdown of GPR56 expression using in ovo electroporation results in variably truncated ducts, with a loss of expression of both epithelial and mesenchymal markers of duct development. Over-expression of GPR56 in vitro results in enhanced cell proliferation and cell migration. These results show that GPR56 plays an essential role in avian Müllerian duct development through the regulation of duct elongation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/JOE-19-0419DOI Listing
February 2020

Dynamic paraspeckle component localisation during spermatogenesis.

Reproduction 2019 09;158(3):267-280

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Expression profiles and subcellular localisations of core Drosophila behaviour/human splicing (DBHS) proteins (PSPC1, SFPQ and NONO) and NEAT1, a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), are investigated in developing and adult mouse testes. Core DBHS proteins are markers for the distinct subnuclear domain termed paraspeckles, while a long NEAT1 isoform scaffold facilitates paraspeckle nucleation. Paraspeckles contain many proteins (>40) and are broadly involved in RNA metabolism, including transcriptional regulation by protein sequestration, nuclear retention of A-to-I edited RNA transcripts to regulate translation and promoting survival during cellular stress. Immunohistochemistry reveals cell-specific profiles for core DBHS paraspeckle protein expression, indicating their functional diversity. PSPC1 is an androgen receptor co-activator, and it is detected in differentiating Sertoli cell nuclei from day 15 onwards, as they develop androgen responsiveness. PSPC1 is nuclear in the most mature male germ cell type present at each age, from foetal to adult life. In adult mouse testes, PSPC1 and SFPQ are present in Sertoli cells, spermatocytes and round spermatids, while the NEAT1 lncRNA appears in the punctate nuclear foci delineating paraspeckles only within Leydig cells. Identification of NEAT1 in the cytoplasm of spermatogonia and spermatocytes must reflect non-paraspeckle-related functions. NONO was absent from germ cells but nuclear in Sertoli cells. Reciprocal nuclear profiles of PSPC1 and γ-H2AX in spermatogenic cells suggest that each performs developmentally regulated roles in stress responses. These findings demonstrate paraspeckles and paraspeckle-related proteins contribute to diverse functions during testis development and spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-19-0139DOI Listing
September 2019

Gonadal and Endocrine Analysis of a Gynandromorphic Chicken.

Endocrinology 2018 10;159(10):3492-3502

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

Birds have a ZZ male and ZW female sex chromosome system. The relative roles of genetics and hormones in regulating avian sexual development have been revealed by studies on gynandromorphs. Gynandromorphs are rare bilateral sex chimeras, male on one side of the body and female on the other. We examined a naturally occurring gynandromorphic chicken that was externally male on the right side of the body and female on the left. The bird was diploid but with a mix of ZZ and ZW cells that correlated with the asymmetric sexual phenotype. The male side was 96% ZZ, and the female side was 77% ZZ and 23% ZW. The gonads of this bird at sexual maturity were largely testicular. The right gonad was a testis, with SOX9+ Sertoli cells, DMRT1+ germ cells, and active spermatogenesis. The left gonad was primarily testicular, but with some peripheral aromatase-expressing follicles. The bird had low levels of serum estradiol and high levels of testosterone, as expected for a male. Despite the low percentage of ZW cells on that side, the left side had female sex-linked feathering, smaller muscle mass, smaller leg and spur, and smaller wattle than the male side. This indicates that these sexually dimorphic structures must be at least partly independent of sex steroid effects. Even a small percentage of ZW cells appears sufficient to support female sexual differentiation. Given the lack of chromosome-wide dosage compensation in birds, various sexually dimorphic features may arise due to Z-gene dosage differences between the sexes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2018-00553DOI Listing
October 2018

Sex determination and gonadal sex differentiation in the chicken model.

Int J Dev Biol 2018 ;62(1-2-3):153-166

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

Our understanding of avian sex determination and gonadal development is derived primarily from the studies in the chicken. Analysis of gynandromorphic chickens and experimental chimeras indicate that sexual phenotype is at least partly cell autonomous in the chicken, with sexually dimorphic gene expression occurring in different tissue and different stages. Gonadal sex differentiation is just one of the many manifestations of sexual phenotype. As in other birds, the chicken has a ZZ male: ZW female sex chromosome system, in which the male is the homogametic sex. Most evidence favours a Z chromosome dosage mechanism underling chicken sex determination, with little evidence of a role for the W chromosome. Indeed, the W appears to harbour a small number of genes that are un-related to sexual development, but have been retained because they are dosage sensitive factors. As global Z dosage compensation is absent in birds, Z-linked genes may direct sexual development in different tissues (males having on average 1.5 to 2 times the expression level of females). In the embryonic gonads, the Z-linked DMRT1 gene plays a key role in testis development. Beyond the gonads, other combinations of Z-linked genes may govern sexual development, together with a role for sex steroid hormones. Gonadal DMRT1 is thought to activate other players in testis development, namely SOX9 and AMH, and the recently identified HEMGN gene. DMRT1 also represses ovarian pathway genes, such as FOXL2 and CYP19A1. A lower level of DMRT1 expression in the female gonads is compatible with activation of the ovarian pathway. Some outstanding questions include how the key testis and ovary genes, DMRT1 and FOXL2, are regulated. In addition, confirmation of the central role of these genes awaits genome editing approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/ijdb.170319csDOI Listing
April 2019

The cell biology and molecular genetics of Müllerian duct development.

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol 2018 05 19;7(3):e310. Epub 2018 Jan 19.

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Anatomy and Development Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

The Müllerian ducts are part of the embryonic urogenital system. They give rise to mature structures that serve a critical function in the transport and development of the oocyte and/or embryo. In most vertebrates, both sexes initially develop Müllerian ducts during embryogenesis, but they regress in males under the influence of testis-derived Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH). A number of regulatory factors have been shown to be essential for proper duct development, including Bmp and Wnt signaling molecules, together with homeodomain transcription factors such as PAX2 and LIM1. Later in development, the fate of the ducts diverges between males and females and is regulated by AMH and Wnt signaling molecules (duct regression in males) and Hox genes (duct patterning in females). Most of the genes and molecular pathways known to be involved in Müllerian duct development have been elucidated through animal models, namely, the mouse and chicken. In addition, genetic analysis of humans with reproductive tract disorders has further defined molecular mechanisms of duct formation and differentiation. However, despite our current understanding of Müllerian duct development, some questions remain to be answered at the molecular genetic level. This article is categorized under: Early Embryonic Development > Development to the Basic Body Plan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wdev.310DOI Listing
May 2018

Sex Reversal and Comparative Data Undermine the W Chromosome and Support Z-linked DMRT1 as the Regulator of Gonadal Sex Differentiation in Birds.

Endocrinology 2017 09;158(9):2970-2987

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia.

The exact genetic mechanism regulating avian gonadal sex differentiation has not been completely resolved. The most likely scenario involves a dosage mechanism, whereby the Z-linked DMRT1 gene triggers testis development. However, the possibility still exists that the female-specific W chromosome may harbor an ovarian determining factor. In this study, we provide evidence that the universal gene regulating gonadal sex differentiation in birds is Z-linked DMRT1 and not a W-linked (ovarian) factor. Three candidate W-linked ovarian determinants are HINTW, female-expressed transcript 1 (FET1), and female-associated factor (FAF). To test the association of these genes with ovarian differentiation in the chicken, we examined their expression following experimentally induced female-to-male sex reversal using the aromatase inhibitor fadrozole (FAD). Administration of FAD on day 3 of embryogenesis induced a significant loss of aromatase enzyme activity in female gonads and masculinization. However, expression levels of HINTW, FAF, and FET1 were unaltered after experimental masculinization. Furthermore, comparative analysis showed that FAF and FET1 expression could not be detected in zebra finch gonads. Additionally, an antibody raised against the predicted HINTW protein failed to detect it endogenously. These data do not support a universal role for these genes or for the W sex chromosome in ovarian development in birds. We found that DMRT1 (but not the recently identified Z-linked HEMGN gene) is male upregulated in embryonic zebra finch and emu gonads, as in the chicken. As chicken, zebra finch, and emu exemplify the major evolutionary clades of birds, we propose that Z-linked DMRT1, and not the W sex chromosome, regulates gonadal sex differentiation in birds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2017-00316DOI Listing
September 2017

Development of a pipeline for automated, high-throughput analysis of paraspeckle proteins reveals specific roles for importin α proteins.

Sci Rep 2017 02 27;7:43323. Epub 2017 Feb 27.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

We developed a large-scale, unbiased analysis method to measure how functional variations in importin (IMP) α2, IMPα4 and IMPα6 each influence PSPC1 and SFPQ nuclear accumulation and their localization to paraspeckles. This addresses the hypothesis that individual IMP protein activities determine cargo nuclear access to influence cell fate outcomes. We previously demonstrated that modulating IMPα2 levels alters paraspeckle protein 1 (PSPC1) nuclear accumulation and affects its localization into a subnuclear domain that affects RNA metabolism and cell survival, the paraspeckle. An automated, high throughput, image analysis pipeline with customisable outputs was created using Imaris software coupled with Python and R scripts; this allowed non-subjective identification of nuclear foci, nuclei and cells. HeLa cells transfected to express exogenous full-length and transport-deficient IMPs were examined using SFPQ and PSPC1 as paraspeckle markers. Thousands of cells and >100,000 nuclear foci were analysed in samples with modulated IMPα functionality. This analysis scale enabled discrimination of significant differences between samples where paraspeckles inherently display broad biological variability. The relative abundance of paraspeckle cargo protein(s) and individual IMPs each influenced nuclear foci numbers and size. This method provides a generalizable high throughput analysis platform for investigating how regulated nuclear protein transport controls cellular activities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep43323DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5379994PMC
February 2017

Sex Reversal in Birds.

Sex Dev 2016 17;10(5-6):288-300. Epub 2016 Aug 17.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.

Sexual differentiation in birds is controlled genetically as in mammals, although the sex chromosomes are different. Males have a ZZ sex chromosome constitution, while females are ZW. Gene(s) on the sex chromosomes must initiate gonadal sex differentiation during embryonic life, inducing paired testes in ZZ individuals and unilateral ovaries in ZW individuals. The traditional view of avian sexual differentiation aligns with that expounded for other vertebrates; upon sexual differentiation, the gonads secrete sex steroid hormones that masculinise or feminise the rest of the body. However, recent studies on naturally occurring or experimentally induced avian sex reversal suggest a significant role for direct genetic factors, in addition to sex hormones, in regulating sexual differentiation of the soma in birds. This review will provide an overview of sex determination in birds and both naturally and experimentally induced sex reversal, with emphasis on the key role of oestrogen. We then consider how recent studies on sex reversal and gynandromorphic birds (half male:half female) are shaping our understanding of sexual differentiation in avians and in vertebrates more broadly. Current evidence shows that sexual differentiation in birds is a mix of direct genetic and hormonal mechanisms. Perturbation of either of these components may lead to sex reversal.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000448365DOI Listing
November 2017

Putting things in place for fertilization: discovering roles for importin proteins in cell fate and spermatogenesis.

Asian J Androl 2015 Jul-Aug;17(4):537-44

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology;Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University; Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash Medical Centre; School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia, .

Importin proteins were originally characterized for their central role in protein transport through the nuclear pores, the only intracellular entry to the nucleus. This vital function must be tightly regulated to control access by transcription factors and other nuclear proteins to genomic DNA, to achieve appropriate modulation of cellular behaviors affecting cell fate. Importin-mediated nucleocytoplasmic transport relies on their specific recognition of cargoes, with each importin binding to distinct and overlapping protein subsets. Knowledge of importin function has expanded substantially in regard to three key developmental systems: embryonic stem cells, muscle cells and the germ line. In the decade since the potential for regulated nucleocytoplasmic transport to contribute to spermatogenesis was proposed, we and others have shown that the importins that ferry transcription factors into the nucleus perform additional roles, which control cell fate. This review presents key findings from studies of mammalian spermatogenesis that reveal potential new pathways by which male fertility and infertility arise. These studies of germline genesis illuminate new ways in which importin proteins govern cellular differentiation, including via directing proteins to distinct intracellular compartments and by determining cellular stress responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4103/1008-682X.154310DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4492042PMC
March 2016

Specific interaction with the nuclear transporter importin α2 can modulate paraspeckle protein 1 delivery to nuclear paraspeckles.

Mol Biol Cell 2015 Apr 18;26(8):1543-58. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia ARC Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development, Australia Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia School of Clinical Sciences, Monash Health Translation Precinct, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia.

Importin (IMP) superfamily members mediate regulated nucleocytoplasmic transport, which is central to key cellular processes. Although individual IMPα proteins exhibit dynamic synthesis and subcellular localization during cellular differentiation, including during spermatogenesis, little is known of how this affects cell fate. To investigate how IMPαs control cellular development, we conducted a yeast two-hybrid screen for IMPα2 cargoes in embryonic day 12.5 mouse testis, a site of peak IMPα2 expression coincident with germ-line masculization. We identified paraspeckle protein 1 (PSPC1), the original defining component of nuclear paraspeckles, as an IMPα2-binding partner. PSPC1-IMPα2 binding in testis was confirmed in immunoprecipitations and pull downs, and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay-based assay demonstrated direct, high-affinity PSPC1 binding to either IMPα2/IMPβ1 or IMPα6/IMPβ1. Coexpression of full-length PSPC1 and IMPα2 in HeLa cells yielded increased PSPC1 localization in nuclear paraspeckles. High-throughput image analysis of >3500 cells indicated IMPα2 levels can directly determine PSPC1-positive nuclear speckle numbers and size; a transport-deficient IMPα2 isoform or small interfering RNA knockdown of IMPα2 each reduced endogenous PSPC1 accumulation in speckles. This first validation of an IMPα2 nuclear import cargo in fetal testis provides novel evidence that PSPC1 delivery to paraspeckles, and consequently paraspeckle function, may be controlled by modulated synthesis of specific IMPs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E14-01-0678DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4395133PMC
April 2015

Hypoxia-controlled EphA3 marks a human endometrium-derived multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell that supports vascular growth.

PLoS One 2014 24;9(11):e112106. Epub 2014 Nov 24.

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Eph and ephrin proteins are essential cell guidance cues that orchestrate cell navigation and control cell-cell interactions during developmental tissue patterning, organogenesis and vasculogenesis. They have been extensively studied in animal models of embryogenesis and adult tissue regeneration, but less is known about their expression and function during human tissue and organ regeneration. We discovered the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α-controlled expression of EphA3, an Eph family member with critical functions during human tumour progression, in the vascularised tissue of regenerating human endometrium and on isolated human endometrial multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (eMSCs), but not in other highly vascularised human organs. EphA3 affinity-isolation from human biopsy tissue yielded multipotent CD29+/CD73+/CD90+/CD146+ eMSCs that can be clonally propagated and respond to EphA3 agonists with EphA3 phosphorylation, cell contraction, cell-cell segregation and directed cell migration. EphA3 silencing significantly inhibited the ability of transplanted eMSCs to support neovascularisation in immunocompromised mice. In accord with established roles of Eph receptors in mediating interactions between endothelial and perivascular stromal cells during mouse development, our findings suggest that HIF-1α-controlled expression of EphA3 on human MSCs functions during the hypoxia-initiated early stages of adult blood vessel formation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0112106PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4242616PMC
July 2015

Importin alpha2-interacting proteins with nuclear roles during mammalian spermatogenesis.

Biol Reprod 2011 Dec 7;85(6):1191-202. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Nuclear Signalling Laboratory, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

Spermatogenesis, the process of generating haploid sperm capable of fertilizing the female gamete, requires the timely transport into the nucleus of transcription and chromatin-remodeling factors, mediated by members of the importin (IMP) superfamily. Previous IMP expression profiling implies a role for IMPalpha2 in testicular germ cells late in spermatogenesis. To identify interacting proteins of IMPalpha2 that are potential drivers of germ cell development, we performed yeast two-hybrid screening of an adult mouse testis library. IMPalpha2 interactions were verified by coimmunoprecipitation approaches, whereas immunohistochemical staining of testis sections confirmed their coexpression with IMPalpha2 in specific testicular cell types. Key interactors identified were a novel isoform of a cysteine and histidine rich protein (Chrp), a protein inhibitor of activated STAT (PIAS) family member involved in transcriptional regulation and sumoylation, Androgen receptor interacting protein 3 (Arip3), and Homologous protein 2 (Hop2), known to be involved in homologous chromosome pairing and recombination, all of which are highly expressed in the testis and show mRNA expression profiles similar to that of IMPalpha2 throughout testicular development. This is the first study to identify binding partners of IMPalpha2 in the developmental context of germ line development, and we propose that the regulated expression and timely IMPalpha2-mediated nuclear transport of these proteins may coordinate events during spermatogenesis, with IMPalpha2-mediated nuclear localization representing a potentially critical developmental switch in the testis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.111.091686DOI Listing
December 2011

Distinct effects of importin α2 and α4 on Oct3/4 localization and expression in mouse embryonic stem cells.

FASEB J 2011 Nov 12;25(11):3958-65. Epub 2011 Aug 12.

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.

The cellular repertoire of importin (IMP) proteins that mediates nuclear import of transcription factors and chromatin remodeling agents is critical to processes such as differentiation and transformation. This study identifies for the first time independent roles for specific IMPαs in murine embryonic stem cells (mESCs), showing that mESC differentiation is accompanied by dynamic changes in the levels of transcripts encoding the IMPs, IMPα3, IMPα4, IMPβ1, and IPO5. Of these, only IMPα4 was maintained at higher levels in differentiating mESCs, correlating with the finding that IMPα4 overexpression induced a significant decrease in Oct3/4 protein levels compared to control transfections. In parallel, IMPα4 protein showed a unique and striking shift in subcellular localization from the nucleus to the cytoplasm during differentiation, which is consistent with activation of a role in nuclear import of differentiation factors. Overexpression of a dominant-negative IMPα2 isoform, when assessed against adjacent untransfected or IMPα2 transfected cells, led to both a significant reduction in endogenous Oct3/4 protein levels and inhibition of Oct3/4 nuclear localization, suggesting that IMPα2-mediated delivery of Oct3/4 to the nucleus contributes directly to maintenance of mESC pluripotency. These findings implicate IMPα2 and IMPα4 in specific but distinct roles in the fate choice between pluripotency and commitment to differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.10-176941DOI Listing
November 2011

Expression of nucleocytoplasmic transport machinery: clues to regulation of spermatogenic development.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2011 Sep 17;1813(9):1668-88. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Australia.

Spermatogenesis is one example of a developmental process which requires tight control of gene expression to achieve normal growth and sustain function. This review is based on the principle that events in spermatogenesis are controlled by changes in the distribution of proteins between the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. Through analysis of the regulated production of nucleocytoplasmic transport machinery in mammalian spermatogenesis, this review addresses the concept that access to the nucleus is tightly controlled to enable and prevent differentiation. A broad review of nuclear transport components is presented, outlining the different categories of machinery required for import, export and non-nuclear functions. In addition, the complexity of nomenclature is addressed by the provision of a concise yet comprehensive listing of information that will aid in comparative studies of different transport proteins and the genes which encode them. We review a suite of existing transcriptional analyses which identify common and distinct patterns of transport machinery expression, showing how these can be linked with key events in spermatogenic development. The additional importance of this for human fertility is considered, in light of data that identify which importin and nuclear transport machinery components are present in testicular cancer specimens, while also providing an indication of how their presence (and absence) may be considered as potential mediators of oncogenesis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Regulation of Signaling and Cellular Fate through Modulation of Nuclear Protein Import.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2011.03.008DOI Listing
September 2011
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