Sensory maps, such as the representation of mouse facial whiskers, are conveyed throughout the nervous system by topographic axonal projections that preserve neighboring relationships between adjacent neurons . In particular, the map transfer to the neocortex is ensured by thalamocortical axons (TCAs), whose terminals are topographically organized in response to intrinsic cortical signals [2–5]. However, TCAs already show a topographic order early in development, as they navigate toward their target [6, 7]. Here, we show that this preordering of TCAs is required for the transfer of the whisker map to the neocortex. Using Ebf1 conditional inactivation that specifically perturbs the development of an intermediate target, the basal ganglia, we scrambled TCA topography en route to the neocortex without affecting the thalamus or neocortex. Notably, embryonic somatosensory TCAs were shifted toward the visual cortex and showed a substantial intermixing along their trajectory. Somatosensory TCAs rewired postnatally to reach the somatosensory cortex but failed to form a topo- graphic anatomical or functional map. Our study reveals that sensory map transfer relies not only on positional information in the projecting and target structures but also on preordering of axons along their trajectory, thereby opening novel perspectives on brain wiring.
Epigenetic variation, such as heritable changes of DNA methylation, can affect gene expression and thus phenotypes, but examples of natural epimutations are few and little is known about their stability and frequency in nature. Here, we report that the gene Qua-Quine Starch (QQS) of Arabidopsis thaliana, which is involved in starch metabolism and that originated de novo recently, is subject to frequent epigenetic variation in nature. Specifically, we show that expression of this gene varies considerably among natural accessions as well as within populations directly sampled from the wild, and we demonstrate that this variation correlates negatively with the DNA methylation level of repeated sequences located within the 59end of the gene. Furthermore, we provide extensive evidence that DNA methylation and expression variants can be inherited for several generations and are not linked to DNA sequence changes. Taken together, these observations provide a first indication that de novo originated genes might be particularly prone to epigenetic variation in their initial stages of formation.
The multiprotein exon junction complex (EJC), deposited by the splicing machinery, is an important constituent of messenger ribonu- cleoprotein particles because it participates to numerous steps of the mRNA lifecycle from splicing to surveillance via nonsense-mediated mRNA decay pathway. By an unknown mechanism, the EJC also stimulates translation efficiency of newly synthesized mRNAs. Here, we show that among the four EJC core components, the RNA-binding protein metastatic lymph node 51 (MLN51) is a translation enhancer. Overexpression of MLN51 preferentially increased the translation of intron-containing reporters via the EJC, whereas silencing MLN51 decreased translation. In addition, modulation of the MLN51 level in cell-free translational extracts confirmed its direct role in protein synthesis. Immunoprecipitations indicated that MLN51 associates with translation-initiating factors and ribosomal subunits, and in vitro binding assays revealed that MLN51, alone or as part of the EJC, interacts directly with the pivotal eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF3. Taken together, our data define MLN51 as a translation activator linking the EJC and the translation machinery.
Many cell functions rely on the coordinated activity of signalling pathways at a subcellular scale. However, there are few tools capable of probing and perturbing signalling networks with a spatial resolution matching the intracellular dimensions of their activity patterns. Here we present a generic magnetogenetic approach based on the self-assembly of signalling complexes on the surface of functionalized magnetic nanoparticles inside living cells. The nanoparticles act as nanoscopic hot spots that can be displaced by magnetic forces and trigger signal transduction pathways that bring about a cell response. We applied this strategy to Rho-GTPases, a set of molecular switches known to regulate cell morphology via complex spatiotemporal patterns of activity. We demonstrate that the nanoparticle-mediated activation of signalling pathways leads to local remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton and to morphological changes.
N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs), neuronal glutamate-gated ion channels, are obligatory heterotetramers composed of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits. Each subunit contains two extracellular clamshell-like domains with an agonist-binding domain and a distal N-terminal domain (NTD). The GluN2 NTDs form mobile regulatory domains. In contrast, the dynamics of GluN1 NTD and its contribution to NMDAR function remain poorly understood. Here we show that GluN1 NTD is neither static nor functionally silent. Perturbing the conformation of GluN1 NTD affects both receptor gating and pharmacological properties. GluN1 NTD undergoes structural rearrangements that involve hinge bending and large twisting and untwisting motions, allowing for new intra- and intersubunit contacts. GluN1 NTD acts in trans with GluN2 NTD to influence binding of glutamate but, notably, not of GluN1 coagonist glycine. Our work uncovers a dynamic role of GluN1 NTD in controlling NMDAR function through new interdomain allosteric interactions.
Biological systems may perform reproducibly to generate invariant outcomes, despite external or internal noise. One example is the C. elegans vulva, in which the final cell fate pattern is remarkably robust. Although this system has been extensively studied and the molecular network underlying cell fate specification is well understood, very little is known in quantitative terms. Here, through pathway dosage modulation and single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization, we show that the system can tolerate a 4-fold variation in genetic dose of the upstream signaling molecule LIN-3/epidermal growth factor (EGF) without phenotypic change in cell fate pattern. Furthermore, through tissuespecific dosage perturbations of the EGF and Notch pathways, we determine the first-appearing patterning errors. Finally, by combining different doses of both pathways, we explore how quantitative pathway interactions influence system behavior. Our results highlight the feasibility and significance of launching experimental studies of robustness and quantitative network analysis in genetically tractable, multicellular eukaryotes.
Cell division in photosynthetic organisms is tightly regulated by light, although little is known about the cellular signaling cascades connecting light perception to cell cycle activation and progression. Here, we demonstrate that diatom-specific cyclin 2 (dsCYC2) in Phaeodactylum tricornutum displays a transcriptional peak within 15 min after light exposure, long before the onset of cell division. Transcriptional induction of dsCYC2 is triggered by the blue light sensor AUREOCHROME1a, which functions synergistically with the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor bZIP10 to induce dsCYC2 transcription. The functional characterization of a cyclin whose transcription is controlled by light and whose activity connects light signaling to cell cycle progression contributes significantly to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying light-dependent cell cycle onset in diatoms.
Conventional acquisition of three-dimensional (3D) microscopy data requires sequential z scanning and is often too slow to capture biological events. We report an aberration-corrected multifocus microscopy method capable of producing an instant focal stack of nine 2D images. Appended to an epifluorescence microscope, the multifocus system enables high-resolution 3D imaging in multiple colors with single-molecule sensitivity, at speeds limited by the camera readout time of a single image.