Publications by authors named "Kurt A Engleka"

19 Publications

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An Engineered Mouse to Identify Proliferating Cells and Their Derivatives.

Front Cell Dev Biol 2020 25;8:388. Epub 2020 May 25.

Department of Surgery, Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States.

Background: Cell proliferation is a fundamental event during development, disease, and regeneration. Effectively tracking and quantifying proliferating cells and their derivatives is critical for addressing many research questions. Cell cycle expression such as for Ki67, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), or aurora kinase B (Aurkb), or measurement of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) or H-thymidine incorporation have been widely used to assess and quantify cell proliferation. These are powerful tools for detecting actively proliferating cells, but they do not identify cell populations derived from proliferating progenitors over time.

Aims: We developed a new mouse tool for lineage tracing of proliferating cells by targeting the allele.

Results: In quiescent cells or cells arrested at G1/S, little or no mRNA is detectable. In cycling cells, transcripts are detectable at G2 and become undetectable by telophase. These findings suggest that transcription is restricted to proliferating cells and is tightly coupled to cell proliferation. Accordingly, we generated an mouse by targeting a tamoxifen inducible Cre cassette into the start codon of . We find that the mouse faithfully labels proliferating cells in developing embryos and regenerative adult tissues such as intestine but does not label quiescent cells such as post-mitotic neurons.

Conclusion: The mouse faithfully labels proliferating cells and their derivatives in developing embryos and regenerative adult tissues. This new mouse tool provides a novel genetic tracing capability for studying tissue proliferation and regeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2020.00388DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7261916PMC
May 2020

Hemodynamic Forces Sculpt Developing Heart Valves through a KLF2-WNT9B Paracrine Signaling Axis.

Dev Cell 2017 11 19;43(3):274-289.e5. Epub 2017 Oct 19.

Department of Medicine and Cardiovascular Institute, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address:

Hemodynamic forces play an essential epigenetic role in heart valve development, but how they do so is not known. Here, we show that the shear-responsive transcription factor KLF2 is required in endocardial cells to regulate the mesenchymal cell responses that remodel cardiac cushions to mature valves. Endocardial Klf2 deficiency results in defective valve formation associated with loss of Wnt9b expression and reduced canonical WNT signaling in neighboring mesenchymal cells, a phenotype reproduced by endocardial-specific loss of Wnt9b. Studies in zebrafish embryos reveal that wnt9b expression is similarly restricted to the endocardial cells overlying the developing heart valves and is dependent upon both hemodynamic shear forces and klf2a expression. These studies identify KLF2-WNT9B signaling as a conserved molecular mechanism by which fluid forces sensed by endothelial cells direct the complex cellular process of heart valve development and suggest that congenital valve defects may arise due to subtle defects in this mechanotransduction pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2017.09.023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5760194PMC
November 2017

Epicardial YAP/TAZ orchestrate an immunosuppressive response following myocardial infarction.

J Clin Invest 2017 Mar 6;127(3):899-911. Epub 2017 Feb 6.

Ischemic heart disease resulting from myocardial infarction (MI) is the most prevalent form of heart disease in the United States. Post-MI cardiac remodeling is a multifaceted process that includes activation of fibroblasts and a complex immune response. T-regulatory cells (Tregs), a subset of CD4+ T cells, have been shown to suppress the innate and adaptive immune response and limit deleterious remodeling following myocardial injury. However, the mechanisms by which injured myocardium recruits suppressive immune cells remain largely unknown. Here, we have shown a role for Hippo signaling in the epicardium in suppressing the post-infarct inflammatory response through recruitment of Tregs. Mice deficient in epicardial YAP and TAZ, two core Hippo pathway effectors, developed profound post-MI pericardial inflammation and myocardial fibrosis, resulting in cardiomyopathy and death. Mutant mice exhibited fewer suppressive Tregs in the injured myocardium and decreased expression of the gene encoding IFN-γ, a known Treg inducer. Furthermore, controlled local delivery of IFN-γ following MI rescued Treg infiltration into the injured myocardium of YAP/TAZ mutants and decreased fibrosis. Collectively, these results suggest that epicardial Hippo signaling plays a key role in adaptive immune regulation during the post-MI recovery phase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI88759DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5330722PMC
March 2017

Loss of neurofibromin Ras-GAP activity enhances the formation of cardiac blood islands in murine embryos.

Elife 2015 Oct 13;4:e07780. Epub 2015 Oct 13.

Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States.

Type I neurofibromatosis (NF1) is caused by mutations in the NF1 gene encoding neurofibromin. Neurofibromin exhibits Ras GTPase activating protein (Ras-GAP) activity that is thought to mediate cellular functions relevant to disease phenotypes. Loss of murine Nf1 results in embryonic lethality due to heart defects, while mice with monoallelic loss of function mutations or with tissue-specific inactivation have been used to model NF1. Here, we characterize previously unappreciated phenotypes in Nf1-/- embryos, which are inhibition of hemogenic endothelial specification in the dorsal aorta, enhanced yolk sac hematopoiesis, and exuberant cardiac blood island formation. We show that a missense mutation engineered into the active site of the Ras-GAP domain is sufficient to reproduce ectopic blood island formation, cardiac defects, and overgrowth of neural crest-derived structures seen in Nf1-/-embryos. These findings demonstrate a role for Ras-GAP activity in suppressing the hemogenic potential of the heart and restricting growth of neural crest-derived tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07780DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4714971PMC
October 2015

Hippo signaling is required for Notch-dependent smooth muscle differentiation of neural crest.

Development 2015 Sep 7;142(17):2962-71. Epub 2015 Aug 7.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, The Cardiovascular Institute and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

Notch signaling has well-defined roles in the assembly of arterial walls and in the development of the endothelium and smooth muscle of the vasculature. Hippo signaling regulates cellular growth in many tissues, and contributes to regulation of organ size, in addition to other functions. Here, we show that the Notch and Hippo pathways converge to regulate smooth muscle differentiation of the neural crest, which is crucial for normal development of the aortic arch arteries and cranial vasculature during embryonic development. Neural crest-specific deletion of the Hippo effectors Yap and Taz produces neural crest precursors that migrate normally, but fail to produce vascular smooth muscle, and Notch target genes such as Jagged1 fail to activate normally. We show that Yap is normally recruited to a tissue-specific Jagged1 enhancer by directly interacting with the Notch intracellular domain (NICD). The Yap-NICD complex is recruited to chromatin by the DNA-binding protein Rbp-J in a Tead-independent fashion. Thus, Hippo signaling can modulate Notch signaling outputs, and components of the Hippo and Notch pathways physically interact. Convergence of Hippo and Notch pathways by the mechanisms described here might be relevant for the function of these signaling cascades in many tissues and in diseases such as cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.125807DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4582185PMC
September 2015

Pax3 and hippo signaling coordinate melanocyte gene expression in neural crest.

Cell Rep 2014 Dec 26;9(5):1885-1895. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; Penn Cardiovascular Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address:

Loss of Pax3, a developmentally regulated transcription factor expressed in premigratory neural crest, results in severe developmental defects and embryonic lethality. Although Pax3 mutations produce profound phenotypes, the intrinsic transcriptional activation exhibited by Pax3 is surprisingly modest. We postulated the existence of transcriptional coactivators that function with Pax3 to mediate developmental functions. A high-throughput screen identified the Hippo effector proteins Taz and Yap65 as Pax3 coactivators. Synergistic coactivation of target genes by Pax3-Taz/Yap65 requires DNA binding by Pax3, is Tead independent, and is regulated by Hippo kinases Mst1 and Lats2. In vivo, Pax3 and Yap65 colocalize in the nucleus of neural crest progenitors in the dorsal neural tube. Neural crest deletion of Taz and Yap65 results in embryo-lethal neural crest defects and decreased expression of the Pax3 target gene, Mitf. These results suggest that Pax3 activity is regulated by the Hippo pathway and that Pax factors are Hippo effectors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2014.10.061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4267159PMC
December 2014

Islet1 derivatives in the heart are of both neural crest and second heart field origin.

Circ Res 2012 Mar 6;110(7):922-6. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Cardiovascular Institute and Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.

Rationale: Islet1 (Isl1) has been proposed as a marker of cardiac progenitor cells derived from the second heart field and is utilized to identify and purify cardiac progenitors from murine and human specimens for ex vivo expansion. The use of Isl1 as a specific second heart field marker is dependent on its exclusion from other cardiac lineages such as neural crest.

Objective: Determine whether Isl1 is expressed by cardiac neural crest.

Methods And Results: We used an intersectional fate-mapping system using the RC::FrePe allele, which reports dual Flpe and Cre recombination. Combining Isl1(Cre/+), a SHF driver, and Wnt1::Flpe, a neural crest driver, with Rc::FrePe reveals that some Isl1 derivatives in the cardiac outflow tract derive from Wnt1-expressing neural crest progenitors. In contrast, no overlap was observed between Wnt1-derived neural crest and an alternative second heart field driver, Mef2c-AHF-Cre.

Conclusions: Isl1 is not restricted to second heart field progenitors in the developing heart but also labels cardiac neural crest. The intersection of Isl1 and Wnt1 lineages within the heart provides a caveat to using Isl1 as an exclusive second heart field cardiac progenitor marker and suggests that some Isl1-expressing progenitor cells derived from embryos, embryonic stem cultures, or induced pluripotent stem cultures may be of neural crest lineage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.266510DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3355870PMC
March 2012

Notch activation of Jagged1 contributes to the assembly of the arterial wall.

Circulation 2012 Jan 6;125(2):314-23. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Background: Notch signaling in vascular smooth muscle precursors is required for smooth muscle differentiation. Jagged1 expression on endothelium activates Notch in vascular smooth muscle precursors including those of neural crest origin to initiate the formation of a smooth muscle layer in a maturing blood vessel.

Methods And Results: Here, we show that Jagged1 is a direct Notch target in smooth muscle, resulting in a positive feedback loop and lateral induction that propagates a wave of smooth muscle differentiation during aortic arch artery development. In vivo, we show that Notch inhibition in cardiac neural crest impairs Jagged1 messenger RNA expression and results in deficient smooth muscle differentiation and resultant aortic arch artery defects. Ex vivo, Jagged1 ligand activates Notch in neural crest explants and results in activation of Jagged1 messenger RNA, a response that is blocked by Notch inhibition. We examine 15 evolutionary conserved regions within the Jagged1 genomic locus and identify a single Notch response element within the second intron. This element contains a functional Rbp-J binding site demonstrated by luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays and is sufficient to recapitulate aortic arch artery expression of Jagged1 in transgenic mice. Loss of Jagged1 in neural crest impairs vascular smooth muscle differentiation and results in aortic arch artery defects.

Conclusions: Taken together, these results provide a mechanism for lateral induction that allows for a multilayered smooth muscle wall to form around a nascent arterial endothelial tube and identify Jagged1 as a direct Notch target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.047159DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3260393PMC
January 2012

Cardiac neural crest orchestrates remodeling and functional maturation of mouse semilunar valves.

J Clin Invest 2011 Jan 13;121(1):422-30. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Congenital anomalies of the aortic valve are common and are associated with progressive valvular insufficiency and/or stenosis. In addition, aneurysm, coarctation, and dissection of the ascending aorta and aortic arch are often associated conditions that complicate patient management and increase morbidity and mortality. These associated aortopathies are commonly attributed to turbulent hemodynamic flow through the malformed valve leading to focal defects in the vessel wall. However, numerous surgical and pathological studies have identified widespread cystic medial necrosis and smooth muscle apoptosis throughout the aortic arch in affected patients. Here, we provide experimental evidence for an alternative model to explain the association of aortic vessel and valvular disease. Using mice with primary and secondary cardiac neural crest deficiencies, we have shown that neural crest contribution to the outflow endocardial cushions (the precursors of the semilunar valves) is required for late gestation valvular remodeling, mesenchymal apoptosis, and proper valve architecture. Neural crest was also shown to contribute to the smooth muscle layer of the wall of the ascending aorta and aortic arch. Hence, defects of cardiac neural crest can result in functionally abnormal semilunar valves and concomitant aortic arch artery abnormalities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI44244DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3007154PMC
January 2011

Distinct enhancers at the Pax3 locus can function redundantly to regulate neural tube and neural crest expressions.

Dev Biol 2010 Mar 4;339(2):519-27. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Pax3 is a transcription factor expressed in somitic mesoderm, dorsal neural tube and pre-migratory neural crest during embryonic development. We have previously identified cis-acting enhancer elements within the proximal upstream genomic region of Pax3 that are sufficient to direct functional expression of Pax3 in neural crest. These elements direct expression of a reporter gene to pre-migratory neural crest in transgenic mice, and transgenic expression of a Pax3 cDNA using these elements is sufficient to rescue neural crest development in mice otherwise lacking endogenous Pax3. We show here that deletion of these enhancer sequences by homologous recombination is insufficient to abrogate neural crest expression of Pax3 and results in viable mice. We identify a distinct enhancer in the fourth intron that is also capable of mediating neural crest expression in transgenic mice and zebrafish. Our analysis suggests the existence of functionally redundant neural crest enhancer modules for Pax3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.12.030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2830354PMC
March 2010

Menin expression modulates mesenchymal cell commitment to the myogenic and osteogenic lineages.

Dev Biol 2009 Aug 21;332(1):116-30. Epub 2009 May 21.

Department of Biology, 327 Farquharson, LSB, York University, Toronto, M3J 1P3 Ontario, Canada.

Menin plays an established role in the differentiation of mesenchymal cells to the osteogenic lineage. Conversely, whether Menin influences the commitment of mesenschymal cells to the myogenic lineage, despite expression in the developing somite was previously unclear. We observed that Menin is down-regulated in C2C12 and C3H10T1/2 mesenchymal cells when muscle differentiation is induced. Moreover, maintenance of Menin expression by constitutive ectopic expression inhibited muscle cell differentiation. Reduction of Menin expression by siRNA technology results in precocious muscle differentiation and concomitantly attenuates BMP-2 induced osteogenesis. Reduced Menin expression antagonizes BMP-2 and TGF-beta1 mediated inhibition of myogenesis. Furthermore, Menin was found to directly interact with and potentiate the transactivation properties of Smad3 in response to TGF-beta1. Finally in concert with these observations, tissue-specific inactivation of Men1 in Pax3-expressing somite precursor cells leads to a patterning defect of rib formation and increased muscle mass in the intercostal region. These data invoke a pivotal role for Menin in the competence of mesenchymal cells to respond to TGF-beta1 and BMP-2 signals. Thus, by modulating cytokine responsiveness Menin functions to alter the balance of multipotent mesenchymal cell commitment to the osteogenic or myogenic lineages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.05.555DOI Listing
August 2009

Persistent expression of Pax3 in the neural crest causes cleft palate and defective osteogenesis in mice.

J Clin Invest 2008 Jun;118(6):2076-87

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Penn Cardiovascular Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.

Transcription factors regulate tissue patterning and cell fate determination during development; however, expression of early regulators frequently abates upon differentiation, suggesting that they may also play a role in maintaining an undifferentiated phenotype. The transcription factor paired box 3 (Pax3) is expressed by multipotent neural crest precursors and is implicated in neural crest disorders in humans such as Waardenburg syndrome. Pax3 is required for development of multiple neural crest lineages and for activation of lineage-specific programs, yet expression is generally extinguished once neural crest cells migrate from the dorsal neural tube and differentiate. Using a murine Cre-inducible system, we asked whether persistent Pax3 expression in neural crest derivatives would affect development or patterning. We found that persistent expression of Pax3 in cranial neural crest cells resulted in cleft palate, ocular defects, malformation of the sphenoid bone, and perinatal lethality. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Pax3 directly regulates expression of Sostdc1, a soluble inhibitor of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling. Persistent Pax3 expression renders the cranial crest resistant to BMP-induced osteogenesis. Thus, one mechanism by which Pax3 maintains the undifferentiated state of neural crest mesenchyme may be to block responsiveness to differentiation signals from the environment. These studies provide in vivo evidence for the importance of Pax3 downregulation during differentiation of multipotent neural crest precursors and cranial development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI33715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2381747PMC
June 2008

Menin is required in cranial neural crest for palatogenesis and perinatal viability.

Dev Biol 2007 Nov 7;311(2):524-37. Epub 2007 Sep 7.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Cardiovascular Institute, University of Pennsylvania, 1154 BRB II, 421 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Menin is a nuclear protein encoded by a tumor suppressor gene that is mutated in humans with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). Menin functions as a component of a histone methyltransferase complex that regulates expression of target genes including the cell cycle inhibitor p27(kip1). Here, we show that menin plays a previously unappreciated and critical role in cranial neural crest. Tissue-specific inactivation of menin in Pax3- or Wnt1-expressing neural crest cells leads to perinatal death, cleft palate and other cranial bone defects, which are associated with a decrease in p27(kip1) expression. Deletion of menin in Pax3-expressing somite precursors also produces patterning defects of rib formation. Thus, menin functions in vivo during osteogenesis and is required for palatogenesis, skeletal rib formation and perinatal viability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.08.057DOI Listing
November 2007

Somitic origin of limb muscle satellite and side population cells.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006 Jan 17;103(4):945-50. Epub 2006 Jan 17.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Program in Genomics, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Repair of mature skeletal muscle is mediated by adult muscle progenitors. Satellite cells have long been recognized as playing a major role in muscle repair, whereas side population (SP) cells have more recently been identified as contributing to this process. The developmental source of these two progenitor populations has been considerably debated. We explicitly tested and quantified the contribution of embryonic somitic cells to these progenitor populations. Chick somitic cells were labeled by using replication-defective retroviruses or quail/chick chimeras, and mouse cells were labeled by crossing somite-specific, Pax3-derived Cre driver lines with a Cre-dependent reporter line. We show that the majority of, if not all, limb muscle satellite cells arise from cells expressing Pax3 specifically in the hypaxial somite and their migratory derivatives. We also find that a significant number of, but not all, limb muscle SP cells are derived from the hypaxial somite. Notably, the heterogeneity in the developmental origin of SP cells is reflected in their functional heterogeneity; somitically derived SP cells are intrinsically more myogenic than nonsomitically derived ones. Thus, we show that the somites, which supply embryonic and fetal myoblasts, are also an important source of highly myogenic adult muscle progenitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0510164103DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1348004PMC
January 2006

Insertion of Cre into the Pax3 locus creates a new allele of Splotch and identifies unexpected Pax3 derivatives.

Dev Biol 2005 Apr;280(2):396-406

Cardiovascular Division, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 19104, USA.

Pax3 is a transcription factor expressed in the dorsal neural tube and somite of the developing embryo. It plays critical roles in pre-migratory neural crest cells and in myogenic precursors of skeletal muscle. Pax3-deficient Splotch embryos display neural tube and neural crest defects and lack hypaxial muscles. We have created a new allele of Splotch by replacing the first coding exon with a gene encoding Cre recombinase. This functions as a null allele and no Pax3 protein is detected in homozygous embryos. Heterozygous Pax3(Cre/+) mice display a white belly spot, as do Splotch heterozygotes. Homozygous Pax3(Cre/Cre) embryos are embryonic lethal. We have used Pax3(Cre/+) mice to fate-map Pax3 derivatives in the developing mouse. As expected, neural crest and some somitic derivatives are identified. However, we also detect previously unappreciated derivatives of Pax3-expressing precursors in the colonic epithelium of the hindgut and within the urogenital system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2005.02.002DOI Listing
April 2005

Identification of a hypaxial somite enhancer element regulating Pax3 expression in migrating myoblasts and characterization of hypaxial muscle Cre transgenic mice.

Genesis 2005 Apr;41(4):202-9

Cardiovascular Division, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.

Pax3 encodes a transcription factor that functions in the embryonic central nervous system, neural crest, and somitic mesoderm. Prior studies suggest that distinct regulatory elements regulate temporal and spatial expression of Pax3 in neural crest and mesoderm. Here, we describe a discrete enhancer element, conserved between mouse and human genomes, that directs Pax3 expression in the ventral-lateral lip of interlimb somites. These regions give rise to hypaxial musculature including limb, ventral body wall, diaphragm, and tongue muscles. Transgenic mice harboring the hypaxial muscle enhancer driving lacZ expression initiate beta-galactosidase expression at E10.0, significantly later than endogenous Pax3 expression in presomitic and segmented mesoderm. Initiation of transgene expression is not dependent on Pax3 itself, since expression is detectable in homozygous Splotch embryos. Transgenic mice expressing Cre recombinase in hypaxial myoblasts were generated and characterized. These results suggest that Pax3 is differentially regulated within the somite in both spatial and temporal domains. Hypaxial muscle Cre mice will allow for specific manipulation of gene expression in this subset of developing skeletal muscle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gene.20116DOI Listing
April 2005

Pax3 functions at a nodal point in melanocyte stem cell differentiation.

Nature 2005 Feb;433(7028):884-7

Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.

Most stem cells are not totipotent. Instead, they are partially committed but remain undifferentiated. Upon appropriate stimulation they are capable of regenerating mature cell types. Little is known about the genetic programmes that maintain the undifferentiated phenotype of lineage-restricted stem cells. Here we describe the molecular details of a nodal point in adult melanocyte stem cell differentiation in which Pax3 simultaneously functions to initiate a melanogenic cascade while acting downstream to prevent terminal differentiation. Pax3 activates expression of Mitf, a transcription factor critical for melanogenesis, while at the same time it competes with Mitf for occupancy of an enhancer required for expression of dopachrome tautomerase, an enzyme that functions in melanin synthesis. Pax3-expressing melanoblasts are thus committed but undifferentiated until Pax3-mediated repression is relieved by activated beta-catenin. Thus, a stem cell transcription factor can both determine cell fate and simultaneously maintain an undifferentiated state, leaving a cell poised to differentiate in response to external stimuli.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03292DOI Listing
February 2005

A potential role for the nucleolus in L1 retrotransposition.

Hum Mol Genet 2004 May 17;13(10):1041-8. Epub 2004 Mar 17.

Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104, USA.

Determining the subcellular localization of the L1 ORF2 protein (ORF2p) has been impossible to date because of technical limitations in detecting either endogenous or overexpressed forms of the protein. Here we report visualization of the full-length ORF2p in cultured human cells following expression in a modified vaccinia virus/T7 RNA polymerase (MVA/T7RP) system. The MVA/T7RP system was used to ascertain subcellular localization of L1 ORF1p and ORF2p both as fusions with green fluorescent protein and by immunocytochemistry. Full-length ORF2p was predominantly cytoplasmic, while carboxy-terminal-deleted ORF2p localized additionally to the nucleolus. We mapped a functional nucleolar localization signal in ORF2p. ORF1p appeared in the cytoplasm with a speckled pattern and colocalized with ORF2p in nucleoli in a subset of cells. These findings help explain the presence of chimeras between L1s and small RNA gene sequences recently discovered in the human genome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddh118DOI Listing
May 2004