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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jun 12;115(24):6231-6236. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1713682115. Epub 2018 May 21.

β-Catenin-dependent mechanotransduction dates back to the common ancestor of Cnidaria and Bilateria.

Author information

1
Department for Molecular Evolution and Development, Centre of Organismal Systems Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna A-1090, Austria.
2
Advanced Microscopy Section, Vienna Biocenter Core Facilities GmbH, Vienna A-1030, Austria.
3
Department for Molecular Evolution and Development, Centre of Organismal Systems Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna A-1090, Austria; ulrich.technau@univie.ac.at.

Abstract

Although the genetic regulation of cellular differentiation processes is well established, recent studies have revealed the role of mechanotransduction on a variety of biological processes, including regulation of gene expression. However, it remains unclear how universal and widespread mechanotransduction is in embryonic development of animals. Here, we investigate mechanosensitive gene expression during gastrulation of the starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, a cnidarian model organism. We show that the blastoporal marker gene brachyury is down-regulated by blocking myosin II-dependent gastrulation movements. Brachyury expression can be restored by applying external mechanical force. Using CRISPR/Cas9 and morpholino antisense technology, we also show that mechanotransduction leading to brachyury expression is β-catenin dependent, similar to recent findings in fish and Drosophila [Brunet T, et al. (2013) Nat Commun 4:1-15]. Finally, we demonstrate that prolonged application of mechanical stress on the embryo leads to ectopic brachyury expression. Thus, our data indicate that β-catenin-dependent mechanotransduction is an ancient gene regulatory mechanism, which was present in the common ancestor of cnidarians and bilaterians, at least 600 million years ago.

KEYWORDS:

Nematostella; brachyury; gastrulation; mechanotransduction; β-catenin

PMID:
29784822
PMCID:
PMC6004442
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1713682115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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