PhD Student, Karolinska Institutet
Over the past decades, a lot of effort has been put into elucidating the molecular pathways controlling the first lineage segregations in the mammalian preimplantation embryo. Due to its great accessibility and simplicity, the mouse model was the one that was most explored. However, as recent studies have shown, there might be essential differences between the mouse and other mammalians species like the human. Based on what was learned from the mouse model and building up on our recently published single-cell transcriptomic roadmap of the early human embryo, we aim to investigate which molecular pathways control the first lineage segregations in the human preimplantation embryo with a special emphasis in the potential role of Hippo pathway during trophectoderm-inner cell mass segregation. For that purpose, we will make use of state-of-the-art gene editing techniques in both human embryonic stem cells and early human embryo to interfere with selected molecular players and test their implications by studying the lineage commitment of edited cells and any possible downstream transcriptional effects in developing human embryos.
Abstract: The segregation of the trophectoderm (TE) from the inner cell mass (ICM) in the mouse blastocyst is determined by position-dependent Hippo signaling. However, the window of responsiveness to Hippo signaling, the exact timing of lineage commitment and the overall relationship between cell commitment and global gene expression changes are still unclear. Single-cell RNA sequencing during lineage segregation revealed that the TE transcriptional profile stabilizes earlier than the ICM and prior to blastocyst formation. Using quantitative Cdx2-eGFP expression as a readout of Hippo signaling activity, we assessed the experimental potential of individual blastomeres based on their level of Cdx2-eGFP expression and correlated potential with gene expression dynamics. We find that TE specification and commitment coincide and occur at the time of transcriptional stabilization, whereas ICM cells still retain the ability to regenerate TE up to the early blastocyst stage. Plasticity of both lineages is coincident with their window of sensitivity to Hippo signaling.
Pub.: 23 Feb '17, Pinned: 18 Sep '17
Abstract: During preimplantation development, mouse embryos form two types of cells, the trophoectoderm (TE) and inner cell mass (ICM), by the early blastocyst stage. This process does not require maternal factors localized in the zygotes, and embryos self-organize at the blastocyst stage through intercellular communications. In terms of the mechanisms of cell fate specification, three historical models have been proposed: the positional model, and the original and newer versions of the polarity model. Recent studies have revealed that the intercellular Hippo signaling pathway plays a central role in the specification of the first cell fates. Hippo signaling is active in the inner cells but inactive in the outer cells. The Hippo-active inner and Hippo-inactive outer cells take the fates of the ICM and the TE, respectively. At the 32-cell stage, E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and cell polarization by the Par-aPKC system activates and inactivates the Hippo pathway, respectively. Both mechanisms involve regulation of angiomotin, and cooperation of these mechanisms establishes cell position-dependent activation of Hippo signaling. At the 16-cell stage, however, asymmetric cell division produces the initial differences in Hippo signaling. At this stage, cell polarity is controlled by both Par-aPKC-dependent and -independent mechanisms. All three historical models are explained by the different regulations and roles of Hippo signaling. Based on these findings, I would like to propose the model by which the differences in Hippo signaling among blastomeres is first produced by asymmetric cell division and then enhanced and stabilized by cell position-dependent mechanisms until their fates are fixed.
Pub.: 31 Dec '16, Pinned: 18 Sep '17
Abstract: Human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) exist in naive and primed states and provide important models to investigate the earliest stages of human development. Naive cells can be obtained through primed-to-naive resetting, but there are no reliable methods to prospectively isolate unmodified naive cells during this process. Here we report comprehensive profiling of cell surface proteins by flow cytometry in naive and primed human PSCs. Several naive-specific, but not primed-specific, proteins were also expressed by pluripotent cells in the human preimplantation embryo. The upregulation of naive-specific cell surface proteins during primed-to-naive resetting enabled the isolation and characterization of live naive cells and intermediate cell populations. This analysis revealed distinct transcriptional and X chromosome inactivation changes associated with the early and late stages of naive cell formation. Thus, identification of state-specific proteins provides a robust set of molecular markers to define the human PSC state and allows new insights into the molecular events leading to naive cell resetting.
Pub.: 28 Mar '17, Pinned: 18 Sep '17
Abstract: Mouse studies have been instrumental in forming our current understanding of early cell-lineage decisions; however, similar insights into the early human development are severely limited. Here, we present a comprehensive transcriptional map of human embryo development, including the sequenced transcriptomes of 1,529 individual cells from 88 human preimplantation embryos. These data show that cells undergo an intermediate state of co-expression of lineage-specific genes, followed by a concurrent establishment of the trophectoderm, epiblast, and primitive endoderm lineages, which coincide with blastocyst formation. Female cells of all three lineages achieve dosage compensation of X chromosome RNA levels prior to implantation. However, in contrast to the mouse, XIST is transcribed from both alleles throughout the progression of this expression dampening, and X chromosome genes maintain biallelic expression while dosage compensation proceeds. We envision broad utility of this transcriptional atlas in future studies on human development as well as in stem cell research.
Pub.: 12 Apr '16, Pinned: 18 Sep '17