Synergy with TGFβ ligands switches WNT pathway dynamics from transient to sustained during human pluripotent cell differentiation
Preprint posted on September 22, 2018 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/09/22/406306
Cell specification in the embryo or during embryonic stem cell differentiation requires fine tuning of signalling pathways such as WNT and TGFβ. The canonical WNT pathway acts through dephosphorylation and liberation of β-Catenin (βCat) – from the Axin/GSK3β destruction complex – which becomes available for nuclear translocation. Once in the nucleus, βCat binds TCF/LEF partners to activate its target genes such as WNT3, Brachyury (T), EOMES and LEF1. Despite many years of study across multiple species, many aspects of the WNT signalling pathway remain to be discovered, such as the link between the dynamics of its expression (including ligand concentration dependence), the timing of activation and the persistence of the signalling, and cell fate during differentiation. This study attempts to model WNT regulation in the embryo by using reporter human embryonic stem cell lines followed by fine-tuning of multiple signalling pathways. The authors bring new insights on how WNT pathway may act in synergy with Activin A and BMP4 both members of the TGFβ signalling pathway.
The study started by engineering a βCat GFP fusion protein hESC reporter line to track the translocation of nuclear βCat by time-lapse microscopy upon different WNT condition. After characterising the new transgenic lines, the authors studied the effect of WNT3A addition at different concentrations. They were able to observe an adaptative response of βCat translocation to the nucleus up to a saturating point (at 300ng/mL): the WNT pathway activation peaked between 2 and 8 hours post addition but went down after 10hrs, then plateaued. Moreover, above 30ng/mL the plateau expression of nuclear βCat was at a higher level than that of unstimulated cells, suggesting that the WNT signalling remained activated for 24hrs post stimulation when high concentrations of WNT3A are added. This result was confirmed by using multiple hESC lines. Of particular note, stimulating WNT pathway by adding CHIR099 resulted in a different signaling dynamics: nuclear βCat increased upon addition of the chemical but, instead of dropping like in the WNT3A condition, it plateaued with a mildly increasing slope for at least 24hrs post-simulation. This result has important implications for developmental biologists using CHIR099 as a WNT agonist.
In the gastrulating embryo, WNT and TGFβ signalling activity overlap, suggesting a possible effect of TGFβ signalling on nuclear βCat levels. To test this hypothesis, cells were grown in the presence of either Activin A or BMP4 with WNT signalling inhibitors (either DKK1 or IWP2 or both). Activin A alone was able to trigger WNT signalling but this signal was shut down by the addition of IWP2. Conversely, BMP4 action on nuclear βCat was not completely shut down even when the medium was supplemented with both IWP2 and DKK1, suggesting an independent role on βCat. Adding Activin A or BMP4 on top of WNT3A increased the total amount of nuclear βCat 20hrs post-stimulation. These results are critical for understanding gastrulating events in the primitive streak where both signalling pathways intersect. It is therefore possible that Massey and colleagues have identified the mechanism that lead to extra-embryonic ectoderm BMP signalling triggering WNT. Once WNT is activated it might be self-maintaining.
Altogether, this study brought new evidence on cross-talking effects of the main signalling pathways involved in the gastrulation process. It becomes clearer that not only Wnt ligands are triggering the increase in nuclear βCat.
Why did I choose this article?
I chose this article because of my interest in understanding WNT activity in gastrulating cells (embryo and stem cells). The authors caught my attention by studying the synergy between multiple signalling involved in this important stage of development. I have always been convinced that the cascade of signalling is not a simple arrow going down on a diagram but rather a massive furball of intricated signalling pathways.
Attisano, L., and Labbé, E. (2004). TGFβ and Wnt pathway cross-talk. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 23, 53–61.
Coster, A.D., Thorne, C.A., Wu, L.F., and Altschuler, S.J. (2017). Examining crosstalk among transforming growth factor β, bone morphogenetic protein, and wnt pathways. J. Biol. Chem. 292, 244–250.
Gadue, P., Huber, T.L., Paddison, P.J., and Keller, G.M. (2006). Wnt and TGF-beta signaling are required for the induction of an in vitro model of primitive streak formation using embryonic stem cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 103, 16806–16811.
Guo, X., Ramirez, A., Waddell, D.S., Li, Z., Liu, X., and Wang, X. (2008). Axin and GSK3-b control Smad3 protein stability and modulate TGF- b signaling. Genes Dev. 106–120.
Heemskerk, I., and Warmflash, A. (2016). Pluripotent stem cells as a model for embryonic patterning: From signaling dynamics to spatial organization in a dish. Dev. Dyn. 976–990.
Morgani, S.M., Metzger, J.J., Nichols, J., Siggia, E.D., and Hadjantonakis, A.-K. (2017). Micropattern differentiation of mouse pluripotent stem cells recapitulates embryo regionalized fates and patterning. 1–35.
Warmflash, A., Sorre, B., Etoc, F., Siggia, E.D., and Brivanlou, A.H. (2014). A method to recapitulate early embryonic spatial patterning in human embryonic stem cells. Nat. Methods 11, 847–854.
Posted on: 9th October 2018Read preprint
Also in the developmental biology category:
Revealing the nanoscale morphology of the primary cilium using super-resolution fluorescence microscopy
|Selected by||Gautam Dey|
Signaling dynamics control cell fate in the early Drosophila embryo
|Selected by||Yara E. Sánchez Corrales|
Three-dimensional tissue stiffness mapping in the mouse embryo supports durotaxis during early limb bud morphogenesis
|Selected by||Natalie Dye|
PUMILIO hyperactivity drives premature aging of Norad-deficient mice
|Selected by||Carmen Adriaens|
3D Tissue elongation via ECM stiffness-cued junctional remodeling
|Selected by||Sundar Naganathan|
EGFR signaling coordinates patterning with cell survival during Drosophila epidermal development
|Selected by||Sarah Bowling|
Damage-induced reactive oxygen species enable zebrafish tail regeneration by repositioning of Hedgehog expressing cells.
|Selected by||Alberto Rosello-Diez|
Arterio-Venous Remodeling in the Zebrafish Trunk Is Controlled by Genetic Programming and Flow-Mediated Fine-Tuning
|Selected by||Andreas van Impel|
Developmental heterogeneity of microglia and brain myeloid cells revealed by deep single-cell RNA sequencing
|Selected by||Zheng-Shan Chong|
Polyacrylamide Bead Sensors for in vivo Quantification of Cell-Scale Stress in Zebrafish Development
|Selected by||Jacky G. Goetz|
millepattes micropeptides are an ancient developmental switch required for embryonic patterning
|Selected by||Erik Clark|
Aurora A depletion reveals centrosome-independent polarization mechanism in C. elegans
Centrosome Aurora A gradient ensures a single PAR-2 polarity axis by regulating RhoGEF ECT-2 localization in C. elegans embryos
|Selected by||Giuliana Clemente|
Anti-angiogenic effects of VEGF stimulation on endothelium deficient in phosphoinositide recycling
|Selected by||Coert Margadant|
SOL1 and SOL2 Regulate Fate Transition and Cell Divisions in the Arabidopsis Stomatal Lineage
|Selected by||Martin Balcerowicz|
Analysis of the role of Nidogen/entactin in basement membrane assembly and morphogenesis in Drosophila
|Selected by||Nargess Khalilgharibi|
Neural crest cells regulate optic cup morphogenesis by promoting extracellular matrix assembly
|Selected by||Ashrifia Adomako-Ankomah|