Asymmetric localization of numb in the chick somite and the influence of myogenic signals

Authors

  • Tamara Holowacz,

    1. Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
    Current affiliation:
    1. Dept. of Medical Genetics, Medical Sciences Building, Rm. 1105, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8 Canada
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  • Li Zeng,

    1. Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
    Current affiliation:
    1. Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02111
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  • Andrew B. Lassar

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
    • Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, 220 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
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Abstract

Whereas Notch signaling is known to play an essential role in the formation of somites, its role during later stages of somite maturation is less well understood. Here, we examine the signals and transcription factors that control the expression of the Notch antagonist, Numb, during somite maturation in the chick embryo. Numb mRNA is present in the epithelial somite and is increased in expression in the forming myotome. Numb protein displays a very specific subcellular localization and dynamic expression during somite maturation. Numb protein is asymmetrically localized in a cortical crescent on the basal side of dividing cells in the dorsomedial lip of the dermomyotome and is subsequently uniformly distributed throughout differentiated myotomal cells. Treatment of somites with either the combination of Wnt-3a and Shh, or ectodermal signals plus noggin, both of which induce somitic myogenesis, did not significantly affect Numb transcript levels but did lead to a dramatic increase in the levels of Numb protein, which was uniformly distributed throughout the cytoplasm of the resultant myotubes. Forced expression of MyoD in somites similarly induced high levels of Numb protein throughout the cytoplasm, without affecting Numb mRNA levels. We also found that signals that promote somitic myogenesis or forced MyoD expression induced expression of the Notch ligand, Serrate-2. Our findings suggest that Notch signals are specifically repressed in the myotome and that asymmetric expression of Numb in dividing cells of the dorsomedial lip of the dermomyotome may modulate whether these cells continue to divide or differentiate into myotomal cells. Developmental Dynamics 235:633–645, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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