Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Diane C. Slusarski
The process of vertebrate development requires communication among many cells of the embryo in order to define the body axis (front/back, head/tail or left/right). The Wnt signaling network plays a key role in a vast array of cellular processes including body axis patterning and cell polarity. One arm of the Wnt signaling network, the non-canonical Wnt pathway, mediates intracellular Ca2+ release via activation of heterotrimeric G proteins. Regulator of G protein Signaling (RGS) proteins can accelerate inactivation of G proteins by acting as G protein GAPs and are uniquely situated to control the amplitude of a Wnt signal. I hypothesize that individual RGS proteins are critical in modulating the frequency and amplitude of Wnt/Ca2+ signaling in different tissues and at different developmental stages and this modulation is essential for developmental patterning events. To this end, this thesis is focused on the effects G protein regulation has on intracellular Ca2+ release dynamics and developmental patterning events.
I combine cellular, molecular and genetic analyses with high resolution Ca2+ imaging to provide new understanding of the role of RGS proteins on Wnt mediated Ca2+ release dynamics and developmental patterning events. In chapter 2, I describe endogenous Ca2+ dynamics from the very first cell divisions through early somitogenesis in zebrafish embryos. I find that each phase of zebrafish development has a distinct pattern of Ca2+ release, highlighting the complexity of Ca2+ ion and cellular physiology.
In Chapter 3, I identify rgs3 as potential modulator of Ca2+ dynamics and Chapter 4 expands upon these observations by providing data supporting that Rgs3 function is necessary for appropriate frequency and amplitude of Ca2+ release during somitogenesis and that Rgs3 functions downstream of Wnt5 activity. My results provide new evidence that a member of the RGS protein family is essential for modulating the non-canonical Wnt network to assure normal tissue patterning during development.
In Chapter 5, I report the identification and characterization of Rgs3b, a paralogue to Rgs3, in zebrafish. I describe results indicating that Rgs3b is poised to interact with Wnt11 indicating that individual RGS genes may have unique roles in modulating Wnt/Ca2+ signaling in different tissues or different stages. In conclusion, this thesis provides data supporting that individual RGS proteins are critical in modulating the frequency and amplitude of Wnt/Ca2+ signaling in different tissues and at different developmental stages and this is a substantial breakthrough in understanding how RGS proteins function to fine-tune known signaling pathways
Copyright 2010 Christina M Freisinger