Epithelial cell fate in the nephron tubule is mediated by the ETS transcription factors etv5a and etv4 during zebrafish kidney development

Marra, A.N., Wingert, R.A.
Developmental Biology   411(2): 231-45 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Marra, Amanda, Wingert, Rebecca
Epithelial cell fate, Kidney, Multiciliated cells, Nephrogenesis, Notch signaling, Pronephros, Retinoic acid, etv4, etv5a
MeSH Terms
  • Acridine Orange/chemistry
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Epithelial Cells/cytology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Kidney/embryology*
  • Nephrons/embryology*
  • Organogenesis/genetics
  • Pronephros/embryology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets/physiology*
  • Receptors, Notch/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors/physiology*
  • Tretinoin/metabolism
  • Zebrafish/embryology*
  • Zebrafish/physiology
  • Zebrafish Proteins/physiology*
26827902 Full text @ Dev. Biol.
Kidney development requires the differentiation and organization of discrete nephron epithelial lineages, yet the genetic and molecular pathways involved in these events remain poorly understood. The embryonic zebrafish kidney, or pronephros, provides a simple and useful model to study nephrogenesis. The pronephros is primarily comprised of two types of epithelial cells: transportive and multiciliated cells (MCCs). Transportive cells occupy distinct tubule segments and are characterized by the expression of various solute transporters, while MCCs function in fluid propulsion and are dispersed in a "salt-and-pepper" fashion within the tubule. Epithelial cell identity is reliant on interplay between the Notch signaling pathway and retinoic acid (RA) signaling, where RA promotes MCC fate by inhibiting Notch activity in renal progenitors, while Notch acts downstream to trigger transportive cell formation and block adoption of an MCC identity. Previous research has shown that the transcription factor ets variant 5a (etv5a), and its closely related ETS family members, are required for ciliogenesis in other zebrafish tissues. Here, we mapped etv5a expression to renal progenitors that occupy domains where MCCs later emerge. Thus, we hypothesized that etv5a is required for normal development of MCCs in the nephron. etv5a loss of function caused a decline of MCC number as indicated by the reduced frequency of cells that expressed the MCC-specific markers outer dense fiber of sperm tails 3b (odf3b) and centrin 4 (cetn4), where rescue experiments partially restored MCC incidence. Interestingly, deficiency of ets variant 4 (etv4), a related gene that is broadly expressed in the posterior mesoderm during somitogenesis stages, also led to reduced MCC numbers, which were further reduced by dual etv5a/4 deficiency, suggesting that both of these ETS factors are essential for MCC formation and that they also might have redundant activities. In epistatic studies, exogenous RA treatment expanded the etv5a domain within the renal progenitor field and RA inhibition blocked etv5a in this populace, indicating that etv5a acts downstream of RA. Additionally, treatment with exogenous RA partially rescued the reduced MCC phenotype after loss of etv5a. Further, abrogation of Notch with the small molecule inhibitor DAPT increased the renal progenitor etv5a expression domain as well as MCC density in etv5a deficient embryos, suggesting Notch acts upstream to inhibit etv5a. In contrast, etv4 levels in renal progenitors were unaffected by changes in RA or Notch signaling levels, suggesting a possible non-cell autonomous role during pronephros formation. Taken together, these findings have revealed new insights about the genetic mechanisms of epithelial cell development during nephrogenesis.
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Human Disease / Model
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