Onecut Regulates Core Components of the Molecular Machinery for Neurotransmission in Photoreceptor Differentiation

Quirino Attilio Vassalli, Chiara Colantuono, Valeria Nittoli, Anna Ferraioli, Giulia Fasano, Federica Berruto, Maria Luisa Chiusano, Robert Neil Kelsh, Paolo Sordino, Annamaria Locascio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Photoreceptor cells (PRC) are neurons highly specialized for sensing light stimuli and have considerably diversified during evolution. The genetic mechanisms that underlie photoreceptor differentiation and accompanied the progressive increase in complexity and diversification of this sensory cell type are a matter of great interest in the field. A role of the homeodomain transcription factor Onecut (Oc) in photoreceptor cell formation is proposed throughout multicellular organisms. However, knowledge of the identity of the Oc downstream-acting factors that mediate specific tasks in the differentiation of the PRC remains limited. Here, we used transgenic perturbation of the Ciona robusta Oc protein to show its requirement for ciliary PRC differentiation. Then, transcriptome profiling between the trans-activation and trans-repression Oc phenotypes identified differentially expressed genes that are enriched in exocytosis, calcium homeostasis, and neurotransmission. Finally, comparison of RNA-Seq datasets in Ciona and mouse identifies a set of Oc downstream genes conserved between tunicates and vertebrates. The transcription factor Oc emerges as a key regulator of neurotransmission in retinal cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Article number602450
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
QV was supported by SZN-Open University (UK) PhD Fellowships and by EMBO short-term fellowship.

Funding Information:
We are indebted to Dr. Antonietta Spagnuolo for the generous gift of the Gsx promoter. Special thanks to Alessandro Amoroso, Giovanna Napolitano, Catia Pedalino, Claudia La Vecchia, Eleonora Gagliardi, and Federica Salatiello for their help in construct preparation and transgenesis experiments. We thank the RIMAR Department of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn and, in particular, the Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Unit for technical support; and Alberto Macina and the MaRe and Meda Units for animal fishing and husbandry. Funding. QV was supported by SZN-Open University (UK) PhD Fellowships and by EMBO short-term fellowship.

Keywords

  • ascidian
  • eye
  • genetic pathway
  • ocellus
  • transcription factor
  • transcriptomic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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