Criswell Katharine E.

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Katharine E.

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  • Article
    Extraocular, rod-like photoreceptors in a flatworm express xenopsin photopigment
    (eLife Sciences Publications, 2019-10-22) Rawlinson, Kate A. ; Lapraz, Francois ; Ballister, Edward R. ; Terasaki, Mark ; Rodgers, Jessica ; McDowell, Richard J. ; Girstmair, Johannes ; Criswell, Katharine E. ; Boldogkoi, Miklos ; Simpson, Fraser ; Goulding, David ; Cormie, Claire ; Hall, Brian K. ; Lucas, Robert J. ; Telford, Maximilian J.
    Animals detect light using opsin photopigments. Xenopsin, a recently classified subtype of opsin, challenges our views on opsin and photoreceptor evolution. Originally thought to belong to the Gαi-coupled ciliary opsins, xenopsins are now understood to have diverged from ciliary opsins in pre-bilaterian times, but little is known about the cells that deploy these proteins, or if they form a photopigment and drive phototransduction. We characterized xenopsin in a flatworm, Maritigrella crozieri, and found it expressed in ciliary cells of eyes in the larva, and in extraocular cells around the brain in the adult. These extraocular cells house hundreds of cilia in an intra-cellular vacuole (phaosome). Functional assays in human cells show Maritigrella xenopsin drives phototransduction primarily by coupling to Gαi. These findings highlight similarities between xenopsin and c-opsin and reveal a novel type of opsin-expressing cell that, like jawed vertebrate rods, encloses the ciliary membrane within their own plasma membrane.
  • Article
    Hox gene expression predicts tetrapod-like axial regionalization in the skate, Leucoraja erinacea
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2021-11-04) Criswell, Katharine E. ; Roberts, Lucy E. ; Koo, Eve T. ; Head, Jason J. ; Gillis, J. Andrew
    The axial skeleton of tetrapods is organized into distinct anteroposterior regions of the vertebral column (cervical, trunk, sacral, and caudal), and transitions between these regions are determined by colinear anterior expression boundaries of Hox5/6, -9, -10, and -11 paralogy group genes within embryonic paraxial mesoderm. Fishes, conversely, exhibit little in the way of discrete axial regionalization, and this has led to scenarios of an origin of Hox-mediated axial skeletal complexity with the evolutionary transition to land in tetrapods. Here, combining geometric morphometric analysis of vertebral column morphology with cell lineage tracing of hox gene expression boundaries in developing embryos, we recover evidence of at least five distinct regions in the vertebral skeleton of a cartilaginous fish, the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea). We find that skate embryos exhibit tetrapod-like anteroposterior nesting of hox gene expression in their paraxial mesoderm, and we show that anterior expression boundaries of hox5/6, hox9, hox10, and hox11 paralogy group genes predict regional transitions in the differentiated skate axial skeleton. Our findings suggest that hox-based axial skeletal regionalization did not originate with tetrapods but rather has a much deeper evolutionary history than was previously appreciated.
  • Article
    Resegmentation is an ancestral feature of the gnathostome vertebral skeleton
    (eLife Sciences Publications, 2020-02-24) Criswell, Katharine E. ; Gillis, J. Andrew
    The vertebral skeleton is a defining feature of vertebrate animals. However, the mode of vertebral segmentation varies considerably between major lineages. In tetrapods, adjacent somite halves recombine to form a single vertebra through the process of ‘resegmentation’. In teleost fishes, there is considerable mixing between cells of the anterior and posterior somite halves, without clear resegmentation. To determine whether resegmentation is a tetrapod novelty, or an ancestral feature of jawed vertebrates, we tested the relationship between somites and vertebrae in a cartilaginous fish, the skate (Leucoraja erinacea). Using cell lineage tracing, we show that skate trunk vertebrae arise through tetrapod-like resegmentation, with anterior and posterior halves of each vertebra deriving from adjacent somites. We further show that tail vertebrae also arise through resegmentation, though with a duplication of the number of vertebrae per body segment. These findings resolve axial resegmentation as an ancestral feature of the jawed vertebrate body plan.
  • Article
    Conserved and unique transcriptional features of pharyngeal arches in the skate (Leucoraja erinacea) and evolution of the jaw
    (Oxford University Press, 2021-04-27) Hirschberger, Christine ; Sleight, Victoria A. ; Criswell, Katharine E. ; Clark, Stephen J. ; Gillis, J. Andrew
    The origin of the jaw is a long-standing problem in vertebrate evolutionary biology. Classical hypotheses of serial homology propose that the upper and lower jaw evolved through modifications of dorsal and ventral gill arch skeletal elements, respectively. If the jaw and gill arches are derived members of a primitive branchial series, we predict that they would share common developmental patterning mechanisms. Using candidate and RNAseq/differential gene expression analyses, we find broad conservation of dorsoventral patterning mechanisms within the developing mandibular, hyoid and gill arches of a cartilaginous fish, the skate (Leucoraja erinacea). Shared features include expression of genes encoding members of the ventralising BMP and endothelin signalling pathways and their effectors, the joint markers nkx3.2 and gdf5 and pro-chondrogenic transcription factor barx1, and the dorsal territory marker pou3f3. Additionally, we find that mesenchymal expression of eya1/six1 is an ancestral feature of the mandibular arch of jawed vertebrates, while differences in notch signalling distinguish the mandibular and gill arches in skate. Comparative transcriptomic analyses of mandibular and gill arch tissues reveal additional genes differentially expressed along the dorsoventral axis of the pharyngeal arches, including scamp5 as a novel marker of the dorsal mandibular arch, as well as distinct transcriptional features of mandibular and gill arch muscle progenitors and developing gill buds. Taken together, our findings reveal conserved patterning mechanisms in the pharyngeal arches of jawed vertebrates, consistent with serial homology of their skeletal derivatives, as well as unique transcriptional features that may underpin distinct jaw and gill arch morphologies.