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20 Publications

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    06/14/23 | Tissue Morphogenesis Through Dynamic Cell and Matrix Interactions.
    Wu D, Yamada KM, Wang S
    Annual Reviews Cell Developmental Biology. 2023 Jun 14:. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-020223-031019

    Multicellular organisms generate tissues of diverse shapes and functions from cells and extracellular matrices. Their adhesion molecules mediate cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, which not only play crucial roles in maintaining tissue integrity but also serve as key regulators of tissue morphogenesis. Cells constantly probe their environment to make decisions: They integrate chemical and mechanical information from the environment via diffusible ligand- or adhesion-based signaling to decide whether to release specific signaling molecules or enzymes, to divide or differentiate, to move away or stay, or even whether to live or die. These decisions in turn modify their environment, including the chemical nature and mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix. Tissue morphology is the physical manifestation of the remodeling of cells and matrices by their historical biochemical and biophysical landscapes. We review our understanding of matrix and adhesion molecules in tissue morphogenesis, with an emphasis on key physical interactions that drive morphogenesis. Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 39 is October 2023. Please see for revised estimates.

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    11/10/22 | Efficient Gene Knockout in Salivary Gland Epithelial Explant Cultures
    R. Sekiguchi , M.M. Mehlferber , K. Matsumoto , S. Wang
    Journal of Dental Research. 11/2022;102:197-206. doi: 10.1177/00220345221128201

    We have developed methods to achieve efficient CRISPR-Cas9–mediated gene knockout in ex vivo mouse embryonic salivary epithelial explants. Salivary epithelial explants provide a valuable model for characterizing cell signaling, differentiation, and epithelial morphogenesis, but research has been limited by a paucity of efficient gene perturbation methods. Here, we demonstrate highly efficient gene perturbation by transient transduction of guide RNA–expressing lentiviruses into Cas9-expressing salivary epithelial buds isolated from Cas9 transgenic mice. We first show that salivary epithelial explants can be cultured in low-concentration, nonsolidified Matrigel suspensions in 96-well plates, which greatly increases sample throughput compared to conventional cultures embedded in solidified Matrigel. We further show that salivary epithelial explants can grow and branch with FGF7 alone, while supplementing with insulin, transferrin, and selenium (ITS) enhances growth and branching. We then describe an efficient workflow to produce experiment-ready, high-titer lentiviruses within 1 wk after molecular cloning. To track transduced cells, we designed the lentiviral vector to coexpress a nuclear fluorescent reporter with the guide RNA. We routinely achieved 80% transduction efficiency when antibiotic selection was used. Importantly, we detected robust loss of targeted protein products when testing 9 guide RNAs for 3 different genes. Moreover, targeting the β1 integrin gene (Itgb1) inhibited branching morphogenesis, which supports the importance of cell–matrix adhesion in driving branching morphogenesis. In summary, we have established a lentivirus-based method that can efficiently perturb genes of interest in salivary epithelial explants, which will greatly facilitate studies of specific gene functions using this system.

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    06/09/22 | Budding epithelial morphogenesis driven by cell-matrix versus cell-cell adhesion
    Shaohe Wang , Kazue Matsumoto , Samantha R. Lish , Alexander X. Cartagena-Rivera , Kenneth M. Yamada
    Cell;184:3702-3716.e30. doi:

    Summary Many embryonic organs undergo epithelial morphogenesis to form tree-like hierarchical structures. However, it remains unclear what drives the budding and branching of stratified epithelia, such as in the embryonic salivary gland and pancreas. Here, we performed live-organ imaging of mouse embryonic salivary glands at single-cell resolution to reveal that budding morphogenesis is driven by expansion and folding of a distinct epithelial surface cell sheet characterized by strong cell-matrix adhesions and weak cell-cell adhesions. Profiling of single-cell transcriptomes of this epithelium revealed spatial patterns of transcription underlying these cell adhesion differences. We then synthetically reconstituted budding morphogenesis by experimentally suppressing E-cadherin expression and inducing basement membrane formation in 3D spheroid cultures of engineered cells, which required β1-integrin-mediated cell-matrix adhesion for successful budding. Thus, stratified epithelial budding, the key first step of branching morphogenesis, is driven by an overall combination of strong cell-matrix adhesion and weak cell-cell adhesion by peripheral epithelial cells.

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    02/06/21 | ZCCHC8 is required for the degradation of pervasive transcripts originating from multiple genomic regulatory features
    Joshua W. Collins , Daniel Martin , Genomics , Computational Biology Core , Shaohe Wang , Kenneth M. Yamada
    bioRxiv. 02/2021:. doi: 10.1101/2021.01.29.428898

    The vast majority of mammalian genomes are transcribed as non-coding RNA in what is referred to as “pervasive transcription.” Recent studies have uncovered various families of non-coding RNA transcribed upstream of transcription start sites. In particular, highly unstable promoter upstream transcripts known as PROMPTs have been shown to be targeted for exosomal degradation by the nuclear exosome targeting complex (NEXT) consisting of the RNA helicase MTR4, the zinc-knuckle scaffold ZCCHC8, and the RNA binding protein RBM7. Here, we report that in addition to its known RNA substrates, ZCCHC8 is required for the targeted degradation of pervasive transcripts produced at CTCF binding sites, open chromatin regions, promoters, promoter flanking regions, and transcription factor binding sites. Additionally, we report that a significant number of RIKEN cDNAs and predicted genes display the hallmarks of PROMPTs and are also substrates for ZCCHC8 and/or NEXT complex regulation suggesting these are unlikely to be functional genes. Our results suggest that ZCCHC8 and/or the NEXT complex may play a larger role in the global regulation of pervasive transcription than previously reported.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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    01/05/21 | Polo-like kinase 1 independently controls microtubule-nucleating capacity and size of the centrosome
    Ohta M, Zhao Z, Wu D, Wang S, Harrison JL, Gómez-Cavazos JS, Desai A, Oegema KF
    Journal of Cell Biology. 01/2021;220:. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202009083

    Centrosomes are composed of a centriolar core surrounded by a pericentriolar material (PCM) matrix that docks microtubule-nucleating γ-tubulin complexes. During mitotic entry, the PCM matrix increases in size and nucleating capacity in a process called centrosome maturation. Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is recruited to centrosomes and phosphorylates PCM matrix proteins to drive their self-assembly, which leads to PCM expansion. Here, we show that in addition to controlling PCM expansion, PLK1 independently controls the generation of binding sites for γ-tubulin complexes on the PCM matrix. Selectively preventing the generation of PLK1-dependent γ-tubulin docking sites led to spindle defects and impaired chromosome segregation without affecting PCM expansion, highlighting the importance of phospho-regulated centrosomal γ-tubulin docking sites in spindle assembly. Inhibiting both γ-tubulin docking and PCM expansion by mutating substrate target sites recapitulated the effects of loss of centrosomal PLK1 on the ability of centrosomes to catalyze spindle assembly.

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    03/09/20 | Basement Membrane Regulates Fibronectin Organization Using Sliding Focal Adhesions Driven by a Contractile Winch
    Jiaoyang Lu , Andrew D. Doyle , Yoshinari Shinsato , Shaohe Wang , Molly A. Bodendorfer , Minhua Zheng , Kenneth M. Yamada
    Developmental Cell. 03/2020;52:631-646.e4. doi:

    Summary We have discovered that basement membrane and its major components can induce rapid, strikingly robust fibronectin organization. In this new matrix assembly mechanism, α5β1 integrin-based focal adhesions slide actively on the underlying matrix toward the ventral cell center through the dynamic shortening of myosin IIA-associated actin stress fibers to drive rapid fibronectin fibrillogenesis distal to the adhesion. This mechanism contrasts with classical fibronectin assembly based on stable or fixed-position focal adhesions containing αVβ3 integrins plus α5β1 integrin translocation into proximal fibrillar adhesions. On basement membrane components, these sliding focal adhesions contain standard focal adhesion constituents but completely lack classical αVβ3 integrins. Instead, peripheral α3β1 or α2β1 adhesions mediate initial cell attachment but over time are switched to α5β1 integrin-based sliding focal adhesions to assemble fibronectin matrix. This basement-membrane-triggered mechanism produces rapid fibronectin fibrillogenesis, providing a mechanistic explanation for the well-known widespread accumulation of fibronectin at many organ basement membranes.

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    10/29/19 | A Semi-high-throughput Imaging Method and Data Visualization Toolkit to Analyze <em>C. elegans</em> Embryonic Development
    Khaliullin R, Hendel J, Gerson-Gurwitz A, Wang S, Ochoa S, Zhao Z, Desai A, Oegema K, Green R
    Journal of Visualized Experiments. 10/2019(152):. doi: 10.3791/60362

    C. elegans is the premier system for the systematic analysis of cell fate specification and morphogenetic events during embryonic development. One challenge is that embryogenesis dynamically unfolds over a period of about 13 h; this half day-long timescale has constrained the scope of experiments by limiting the number of embryos that can be imaged. Here, we describe a semi-high-throughput protocol that allows for the simultaneous 3D time-lapse imaging of development in 80–100 embryos at moderate time resolution, from up to 14 different conditions, in a single overnight run. The protocol is straightforward and can be implemented by any laboratory with access to a microscope with point visiting capacity. The utility of this protocol is demonstrated by using it to image two custom-built strains expressing fluorescent markers optimized to visualize key aspects of germ-layer specification and morphogenesis. To analyze the data, a custom program that crops individual embryos out of a broader field of view in all channels, z-steps, and timepoints and saves the sequences for each embryo into a separate tiff stack was built. The program, which includes a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI), streamlines data processing by isolating, pre-processing, and uniformly orienting individual embryos in preparation for visualization or automated analysis. Also supplied is an ImageJ macro that compiles individual embryo data into a multi-panel file that displays maximum intensity fluorescence projection and brightfield images for each embryo at each time point. The protocols and tools described herein were validated by using them to characterize embryonic development following knock-down of 40 previously described developmental genes; this analysis visualized previously annotated developmental phenotypes and revealed new ones. In summary, this work details a semi-high-throughput imaging method coupled with a cropping program and ImageJ visualization tool that, when combined with strains expressing informative fluorescent markers, greatly accelerates experiments to analyze embryonic development.

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    06/10/19 | Extracellular matrix dynamics in cell migration, invasion and tissue morphogenesis
    Yamada KM, Collins JW, Cruz Walma DA, Doyle AD, Morales SG, Lu J, Matsumoto K, Nazari SS, Sekiguchi R, Shinsato Y, Wang S
    International Journal of Experimental Pathology. 06/2019;100:144-152. doi:

    Summary This review describes how direct visualization of the dynamic interactions of cells with different extracellular matrix microenvironments can provide novel insights into complex biological processes. Recent studies have moved characterization of cell migration and invasion from classical 2D culture systems into 1D and 3D model systems, revealing multiple differences in mechanisms of cell adhesion, migration and signalling—even though cells in 3D can still display prominent focal adhesions. Myosin II restrains cell migration speed in 2D culture but is often essential for effective 3D migration. 3D cell migration modes can switch between lamellipodial, lobopodial and/or amoeboid depending on the local matrix environment. For example, “nuclear piston” migration can be switched off by local proteolysis, and proteolytic invadopodia can be induced by a high density of fibrillar matrix. Particularly, complex remodelling of both extracellular matrix and tissues occurs during morphogenesis. Extracellular matrix supports self-assembly of embryonic tissues, but it must also be locally actively remodelled. For example, surprisingly focal remodelling of the basement membrane occurs during branching morphogenesis—numerous tiny perforations generated by proteolysis and actomyosin contractility produce a microscopically porous, flexible basement membrane meshwork for tissue expansion. Cells extend highly active blebs or protrusions towards the surrounding mesenchyme through these perforations. Concurrently, the entire basement membrane undergoes translocation in a direction opposite to bud expansion. Underlying this slowly moving 2D basement membrane translocation are highly dynamic individual cell movements. We conclude this review by describing a variety of exciting research opportunities for discovering novel insights into cell-matrix interactions.

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    04/11/19 | A high-content imaging approach to profile C. elegans embryonic development
    Wang S, Ochoa SD, Khaliullin RN, Gerson-Gurwitz A, Hendel JM, Zhao Z, Biggs R, Chisholm AD, Desai A, Oegema K, Green RA
    Development. 04-2019;146:. doi: 10.1242/dev.174029

    The Caenorhabditis elegans embryo is an important model for analyzing mechanisms of cell fate specification and tissue morphogenesis. Sophisticated lineage-tracing approaches for analyzing embryogenesis have been developed but are labor intensive and do not naturally integrate morphogenetic readouts. To enable the rapid classification of developmental phenotypes, we developed a high-content method that employs two custom strains: a Germ Layer strain that expresses nuclear markers in the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm/pharynx; and a Morphogenesis strain that expresses markers labeling epidermal cell junctions and the neuronal cell surface. We describe a procedure that allows simultaneous live imaging of development in 80-100 embryos and provide a custom program that generates cropped, oriented image stacks of individual embryos to facilitate analysis. We demonstrate the utility of our method by perturbing 40 previously characterized developmental genes in variants of the two strains containing RNAi-sensitizing mutations. The resulting datasets yielded distinct, reproducible signature phenotypes for a broad spectrum of genes that are involved in cell fate specification and morphogenesis. In addition, our analysis provides new in vivo evidence for MBK-2 function in mesoderm fate specification and LET-381 function in elongation.

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    03/25/19 | The Kinetochore-Microtubule Coupling Machinery Is Repurposed in Sensory Nervous System Morphogenesis
    Dhanya K. Cheerambathur , Bram Prevo , Tiffany-Lynn Chow , Neil Hattersley , Shaohe Wang , Zhiling Zhao , Taekyung Kim , Adina Gerson-Gurwitz , Karen Oegema , Rebecca Green , Arshad Desai
    Developmental Cell. 03/2019;48:864-872.e7. doi:

    Summary Dynamic coupling of microtubule ends to kinetochores, built on the centromeres of chromosomes, directs chromosome segregation during cell division. Here, we report that the evolutionarily ancient kinetochore-microtubule coupling machine, the KMN (Knl1/Mis12/Ndc80-complex) network, plays a critical role in neuronal morphogenesis. We show that the KMN network concentrates in microtubule-rich dendrites of developing sensory neurons that collectively extend in a multicellular morphogenetic event that occurs during C. elegans embryogenesis. Post-mitotic degradation of KMN components in sensory neurons disrupts dendritic extension, leading to patterning and functional defects in the sensory nervous system. Structure-guided mutations revealed that the molecular interface that couples kinetochores to spindle microtubules also functions in neuronal development. These results identify a cell-division-independent function for the chromosome-segregation machinery and define a microtubule-coupling-dependent event in sensory nervous system morphogenesis.

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