We have used the C. elegans primordial gonad to understand how stem cells assemble into a niche during development. The C. elegans primordial gonad contains two somatic gonad precursor cells (SGPs) and two primordial germ cells (PGCs). The primordial gonad assembles during embryogenesis when PGCs and SGPs come together adjacent the intestine.
As a first step in understanding niche assembly, we investigated how PGCs move to the site where the primordial gonad forms. PGCs and somatic cells move into the interior during gastrulation. Because somatic cells require transcription to ingress whereas PGCs are transcriptionally quiescent, we hypothesized that somatic cells might push or pull the PGCs into the embryo. We used videomicroscopy to identify cells that contact the PGCs, and used laser killing to determine if the contacting cells are required for PGC ingression. The PGCs are surrounding by adjacent mesodermal cells and internal endodermal cells. We found that the only contacting cells necessary for PGC ingression were the endodermal cells, which ingress into the embryo an hour before the PGCs. Killing or altering the fate of the endodermal cells prevented PGC ingression but not ingression of other somatic cells. Using fluorescent membrane markers and live imaging, we showed that PGCs and endodermal cells maintain contact throughout gastrulation, and that endodermal cells move dorsally as PGCs ingress form the ventral surface. PGCs express high levels of E-cadherin/HMR-1, and knocking down E-cadherin/HMR-1 caused PGCs to detach from endodermal cells and remain on the surface of the embryo. Finally, we show that the enrichment of HMR-1 protein in the PGCs is not due to transcriptional upregulation, but is instead due to an increase in protein expression mediated by the hmr-1 3' UTR. We propose that PGCs upregulate E-cadherin/HMR-1 to maintain tight adhesion with endodermal cells, which pull the PGCs into the embryo and position them at the site of primordial gonad assembly. Our results highlight the importance of germ cell - gut interactions during development and of E-cadherin-mediated adhesion in niche formation.
|Commitee:||Fitch, David, Hubbard, Jane, Knaut, Holger, Lehmann, Ruth|
|School:||New York University|
|Department:||Basic Medical Science|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Biology, Molecular biology, Genetics|
|Keywords:||Adhesion, Cadherin, Endoderm, Gastrulation, Germ cell internalization, Primordial germ cells, Utr|
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