The team analyzed the somite segmentation process that results in the formation of the vertebral column. This process is thought to be controlled by two components: a molecular oscillator (the segmentation clock), and the graded activity of several major signaling pathways (the gradient) in the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). The PSM is the middle layer of the three cell layers that form an early embryo. Wnt-signaling has been implicated in both these mechanisms, but precisely how was unclear until now.
In this work, the Pourquié team tested the importance of Beta-catenin, a protein that functions as the principal mediator of the Wnt-signaling pathway, in the process of somite formation. They showed that a newly identified Beta-catenin protein gradient in the PSM is critical in regulating mesoderm maturation. Real-time imaging experiments also demonstrated that, conversely, the segmentation clock is not caused by graded levels of Beta-catenin protein.
“We were able to demonstrate that increasing Beta-catenin protein levels dramatically alters PSM maturation,” said Alexander Aulehla, M.D., Senior Research Associate and first author on the paper. “But, by using the real-time imaging technique in mouse embryos, we could show that increasing Beta-catenin also corresponded with ongoing, even ectopic, oscillations of the segmentation clock, which controls the rate of somite development.”
“This work offers novel insights into how the mechanisms of maturation and oscillation in the PSM are controlled and how they are interconnected,” said Olivier Pourquié, Ph.D., Investigator and senior author on the paper. “Additionally, this project has allowed us to achieve the longstanding goal of visualizing the segmentation clock in real-time using fluorescence-based imaging, which is sure to impact other important projects in our lab”
Since joining the Stowers Institute in 2002, the Pourquié Lab has made a number of significant discoveries related to somite development. Somites eventually give rise to the vertebral column, which is malformed in people born with congenital scoliosis. It is believed that some cases of congenital scoliosis are caused by mutations related to the segmentation clock.
Marie Jennings | EurekAlert!
New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs
18.04.2019 | University of Hawaii at Manoa
New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection
18.04.2019 | Polytechnique Montréal
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna
A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences
18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences