REGULATION OF BETA-CATENIN NUCLEARIZATION
Principal Investigator: CHARLES ETTENSOHN
Abstract: The accumulation of beta-catenin in the nuclei of specific blastomeres is a critical early step in animal development. In all deuterostomes (echinoderms and chordates/vertebrates) that have been studied, accumulation of beta-catenin in the nuclei of specific blastomeres along the axis of the cleavage stage embryo is one of the first indications of embryonic polarity. This differential "nuclearization" of beta-catenin is essential for proper germ layer formation and the establishment of inductive centers. The sea urchin embryo is a powerful model system for studying beta-catenin nuclearization. The embryo develops externally and is optically transparent, facilitating the application of a wide variety of light optical technologies. The system is unique in that specific cell types can be isolated from early embryos in large quantities. Most of the molecules of the beta-catenin pathway have been cloned from sea urchin and a large number of molecular biological tools are available. Gene expression can be manipulated by expression of dominant negative constructs and by microinjection of "morpholino" antisense oligonucleotides. The proposed work will identify the mechanisms that underlie beta-catenin nuclearization in early embryos. There are two major aims: 1) Using GFP-tagged proteins and time-lapse, 3-D confocal microscopy, the dynamics and turnover of key regulators of beta-catenin degradation will be studied in vivo. We will measure the half-life of beta-catenin in specific blastomeres of the early embryo, which will provide essential information concerning the cellular and molecular mechanisms of differential nuclearization. Through blastomere isolation experiments, we will test the role of cell-cell interactions in regulating beta-catenin nuclearization. 2) We will test three major models of GSK3 regulation along the embryo axis. In addition, using dominant negative constructs and morpholinos, we will examine the developmental function of two regulators of GSK3 activity, disheveled and Akt/PKB.
Funding Period: 2003-03-01 - 2008-02-28
more information: NIH RePORT