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Differential Responses to Wnt and PCP Disruption Predict Expression and Developmental Function of Conserved and Novel Genes in a Cnidarian

Abstract : We have used Digital Gene Expression analysis to identify, without bilaterian bias, regulators of cnidarian embryonic patterning. Transcriptome comparison between un-manipulated Clytia early gastrula embryos and ones in which the key polarity regulator Wnt3 was inhibited using morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (Wnt3-MO) identified a set of significantly over and under-expressed transcripts. These code for candidate Wnt signaling modulators, orthologs of other transcription factors, secreted and transmembrane proteins known as developmental regulators in bilaterian models or previously uncharacterized, and also many cnidarian-restricted proteins. Comparisons between embryos injected with morpholinos targeting Wnt3 and its receptor Fz1 defined four transcript classes showing remarkable correlation with spatiotemporal expression profiles. Class 1 and 3 transcripts tended to show sustained expression at ''oral'' and ''aboral'' poles respectively of the developing planula larva, class 2 transcripts in cells ingressing into the endodermal region during gastrulation, while class 4 gene expression was repressed at the early gastrula stage. The preferential effect of Fz1-MO on expression of class 2 and 4 transcripts can be attributed to Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) disruption, since it was closely matched by morpholino knockdown of the specific PCP protein Strabismus. We conclude that endoderm and post gastrula-specific gene expression is particularly sensitive to PCP disruption while Wnt-/b-catenin signaling dominates gene regulation along the oral-aboral axis. Phenotype analysis using morpholinos targeting a subset of transcripts indicated developmental roles consistent with expression profiles for both conserved and cnidarian-restricted genes. Overall our unbiased screen allowed systematic identification of regionally expressed genes and provided functional support for a shared eumetazoan developmental regulatory gene set with both predicted and previously unexplored members, but also demonstrated that fundamental developmental processes including axial patterning and endoderm formation in cnidarians can involve newly evolved (or highly diverged) genes.
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Pascal Lapébie, Antonella Ruggiero, Carine Barreau, Sandra Chevalier, Patrick Chang, et al.. Differential Responses to Wnt and PCP Disruption Predict Expression and Developmental Function of Conserved and Novel Genes in a Cnidarian. PLoS Genetics, Public Library of Science, 2014, 10 (9), pp.e1004590. ⟨10.1371/journal.pgen.1004590⟩. ⟨hal-01342635⟩

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