Temporal integration of inductive cues on the way to gastrulation

Sarah McFann, Sayantan Dutta, Jared E. Toettcher, Stanislav Y. Shvartsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Markers for the endoderm and mesoderm germ layers are commonly expressed together in the early embryo, potentially reflecting cells' ability to explore potential fates before fully committing. It remains unclear when commitment to a single-germ layer is reached and how it is impacted by external signals. Here, we address this important question in Drosophila, a convenient model system in which mesodermal and endodermal fates are associated with distinct cellular movements during gastrulation. Systematically applying endoderm-inducing extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signals to the ventral medial embryo-which normally only receives a mesoderm-inducing cue-reveals a critical time window during which mesodermal cell movements and gene expression are suppressed by proendoderm signaling. We identify the ERK target gene huckebein (hkb) as the main cause of the ventral furrow suppression and use computational modeling to show that Hkb repression of the mesoderm-associated gene snail is sufficient to account for a broad range of transcriptional and morphogenetic effects. Our approach, pairing precise signaling perturbations with observation of transcriptional dynamics and cell movements, provides a general framework for dissecting the complexities of combinatorial tissue patterning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2102691118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume118
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 8 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • Developmental signaling
  • Germ layer specification
  • Morphogenesis
  • Optogenetics
  • Transcriptional dynamics

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