Horb Marko E.

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Marko E.

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  • Article
    Transgenic Xenopus laevis line for in vivo labeling of nephrons within the kidney
    (MDPI AG, 2018-04-06) Corkins, Mark E. ; Hanania, Hannah L. ; Krneta-Stankic, Vanja ; DeLay, Bridget D. ; Pearl, Esther J. ; Lee, Moonsup ; Ji, Hong ; Davidson, Alan J. ; Horb, Marko E. ; Miller, Rachel K.
    Xenopus laevis embryos are an established model for studying kidney development. The nephron structure and genetic pathways that regulate nephrogenesis are conserved between Xenopus and humans, allowing for the study of human disease-causing genes. Xenopus embryos are also amenable to large-scale screening, but studies of kidney disease-related genes have been impeded because assessment of kidney development has largely been limited to examining fixed embryos. To overcome this problem, we have generated a transgenic line that labels the kidney. We characterize this cdh17:eGFP line, showing green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression in the pronephric and mesonephric kidneys and colocalization with known kidney markers. We also demonstrate the feasibility of live imaging of embryonic kidney development and the use of cdh17:eGFP as a kidney marker for secretion assays. Additionally, we develop a new methodology to isolate and identify kidney cells for primary culture. We also use morpholino knockdown of essential kidney development genes to establish that GFP expression enables observation of phenotypes, previously only described in fixed embryos. Taken together, this transgenic line will enable primary kidney cell culture and live imaging of pronephric and mesonephric kidney development. It will also provide a simple means for high-throughput screening of putative human kidney disease-causing genes.
  • Book chapter
    Advances in genome editing tools
    (Taylor & Francis, 2022-04-19) Horb, Marko E. ; Abu-Daya, Anita ; Wlizla, Marcin ; Noble, Anna ; Guille, Matthew
    This book focuses on the amphibian, Xenopus, one of the most commonly used model animals in the biological sciences. Over the past 50 years, the use of Xenopus has made possible many fundamental contributions to our knowledge in cell biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, and neurobiology. In recent years, with the completion of the genome sequence of the main two species and the application of genome editing techniques, Xenopus has emerged as a powerful system to study fundamental disease mechanisms and test treatment possibilities. Xenopus has proven an essential vertebrate model system for understanding fundamental cell and developmental biological mechanisms, for applying fundamental knowledge to pathological processes, for deciphering the function of human disease genes, and for understanding genome evolution. Key Features Provides historical context of the contributions of the model system Includes contributions from an international team of leading scholars Presents topics spanning cell biology, developmental biology, genomics, and disease model Describes recent experimental advances Incorporates richly illustrated diagrams and color images
  • Article
    An optimized method for cryogenic storage of Xenopus sperm to maximise the effectiveness of research using genetically altered frogs
    (Elsevier, 2017-01-17) Pearl, Esther J. ; Morrow, Sean ; Noble, Anna ; Lerebours, Adelaide ; Horb, Marko E. ; Guille, Matthew
    Cryogenic storage of sperm from genetically altered Xenopus improves cost effectiveness and animal welfare associated with their use in research; currently it is routine for X. tropicalis but not reliable for X. laevis. Here we compare directly the three published protocols for Xenopus sperm freeze-thaw and determine whether sperm storage temperature, method of testes maceration and delays in the freezing protocols affect successful fertilisation and embryo development in X. laevis. We conclude that the protocol is robust and that the variability observed in fertilisation rates is due to differences between individuals. We show that the embryos made from the frozen-thawed sperm are normal and that the adults they develop into are reproductively indistinguishable from others in the colony. This opens the way for using cryopreserved sperm to distribute dominant genetically altered (GA) lines, potentially saving travel-induced stress to the male frogs, reducing their numbers used and making Xenopus experiments more cost effective.
  • Article
    Normal table of Xenopus development: a new graphical resource
    (The Company of Biologists, 2022-07-14) Zahn, Natalya ; James-Zorn, Christina ; Ponferrada, Virgilio G. ; Adams, Dany S. ; Grzymkowski, Julia ; Buchholz, Daniel R. ; Nascone-Yoder, Nanette M. ; Horb, Marko E. ; Moody, Sally A. ; Vize, Peter D. ; Zorn, Aaron M.
    Normal tables of development are essential for studies of embryogenesis, serving as an important resource for model organisms, including the frog Xenopus laevis. Xenopus has long been used to study developmental and cell biology, and is an increasingly important model for human birth defects and disease, genomics, proteomics and toxicology. Scientists utilize Nieuwkoop and Faber's classic ‘Normal Table of Xenopus laevis (Daudin)’ and accompanying illustrations to enable experimental reproducibility and reuse the illustrations in new publications and teaching. However, it is no longer possible to obtain permission for these copyrighted illustrations. We present 133 new, high-quality illustrations of X. laevis development from fertilization to metamorphosis, with additional views that were not available in the original collection. All the images are available on Xenbase, the Xenopus knowledgebase (http://www.xenbase.org/entry/zahn.do), for download and reuse under an attributable, non-commercial creative commons license. Additionally, we have compiled a ‘Landmarks Table’ of key morphological features and marker gene expression that can be used to distinguish stages quickly and reliably (https://www.xenbase.org/entry/landmarks-table.do). This new open-access resource will facilitate Xenopus research and teaching in the decades to come.
  • Preprint
    Microarray analysis of Xenopus endoderm expressing Ptf1a
    ( 2012-07) Bilogan, Cassandra K. ; Horb, Marko E.
    Pancreas specific transcription factor 1a (Ptf1a), a bHLH transcription factor, has two temporally distinct functions during pancreas development; initially it is required for early specification of the entire pancreas, while later it is required for proper differentiation and maintenance of only acinar cells. The importance of Ptf1a function was revealed by the fact that loss of Ptf1a leads to pancreas agenesis in humans. While Ptf1a is one of the most important pancreatic transcription factors, little is known about the differences between the regulatory networks it controls during initial specification of the pancreas as opposed to acinar cell development, and to date no comprehensive analysis of its downstream targets has been published. In this paper, we use Xenopus embryos to identify putative downstream targets of Ptf1a. We isolated anterior endoderm tissue overexpressing Ptf1a at two early stages, NF32 and NF36, and compared their gene expression profiles using microarrays. Our results revealed that Ptf1a regulates genes with a wide variety of functions, providing insight into the complexity of the regulatory network required for pancreas specification.
  • Article
    Inbreeding ratio and genetic relationships among strains of the Western clawed frog, Xenopus tropicalis
    (Public Library of Science, 2015-07-29) Igawa, Takeshi ; Watanabe, Ai ; Suzuki, Atsushi ; Kashiwagi, Akihiko ; Kashiwagi, Keiko ; Noble, Anna ; Guille, Matthew ; Simpson, David E. ; Horb, Marko E. ; Fujii, Tamotsu ; Sumida, Masayuki
    The Western clawed frog, Xenopus tropicalis, is a highly promising model amphibian, especially in developmental and physiological research, and as a tool for understanding disease. It was originally found in the West African rainforest belt, and was introduced to the research community in the 1990s. The major strains thus far known include the Nigerian and Ivory Coast strains. However, due to its short history as an experimental animal, the genetic relationship among the various strains has not yet been clarified, and establishment of inbred strains has not yet been achieved. Since 2003 the Institute for Amphibian Biology (IAB), Hiroshima University has maintained stocks of multiple X. tropicalis strains and conducted consecutive breeding as part of the National BioResource Project. In the present study we investigated the inbreeding ratio and genetic relationship of four inbred strains at IAB, as well as stocks from other institutions, using highly polymorphic microsatellite markers and mitochondrial haplotypes. Our results show successive reduction of heterozygosity in the genome of the IAB inbred strains. The Ivory Coast strains clearly differed from the Nigerian strains genetically, and three subgroups were identified within both the Nigerian and Ivory Coast strains. It is noteworthy that the Ivory Coast strains have an evolutionary divergent genetic background. Our results serve as a guide for the most effective use of X. tropicalis strains, and the long-term maintenance of multiple strains will contribute to further research efforts.
  • Article
    CRISPR/Cas9 mediated mutation of the mtnr1a melatonin receptor gene causes rod photoreceptor degeneration in developing Xenopus tropicalis
    (Nature Research, 2020-08-13) Wiechmann, Allan F. ; Martin, Teryn A. ; Horb, Marko E.
    Nighttime surges in melatonin levels activate melatonin receptors, which synchronize cellular activities with the natural light/dark cycle. Melatonin receptors are expressed in several cell types in the retina, including the photon-sensitive rods and cones. Previous studies suggest that long-term photoreceptor survival and retinal health is in part reliant on melatonin orchestration of circadian homeostatic activities. This scenario would accordingly envisage that disruption of melatonin receptor signaling is detrimental to photoreceptor health. Using in vivo CRISPR/Cas9 genomic editing, we discovered that a small deletion mutation of the Mel1a melatonin receptor (mtnr1a) gene causes a loss of rod photoreceptors in retinas of developing Xenopus tropicalis heterozygous, but not homozygous mutant tadpoles. Cones were relatively spared from degeneration, and the rod loss phenotype was not obvious after metamorphosis. Localization of Mel1a receptor protein appeared to be about the same in wild type and mutant retinas, suggesting that the mutant protein is expressed at some level in mutant retinal cells. The severe impact on early rod photoreceptor viability may signify a previously underestimated critical role in circadian influences on long-term retinal health and preservation of sight. These data offer evidence that disturbance of homeostatic, circadian signaling, conveyed through a mutated melatonin receptor, is incompatible with rod photoreceptor survival.
  • Article
    Luteinizing Hormone is an effective replacement for hCG to induce ovulation in Xenopus
    (Elsevier, 2016-06-02) Wlizla, Marcin ; Falco, Rosalia ; Peshkin, Leonid ; Parlow, Albert F. ; Horb, Marko E.
    Injection of human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) directly into the dorsal lymph sac of Xenopus is a commonly used protocol for induction of ovulation, but recent shortages in the stocks of commercially available hCG as well as lack of a well tested alternative have resulted in frustrating experimental delays in laboratories that predominantly use Xenopus in their research. Mammalian Luteinizing Hormones (LH) share structural similarity, functional equivalency, and bind the same receptor as hCG; this suggests that LH may serve as a good alternative to hCG for promoting ovulation in Xenopus. LH has been found to induce maturation of Xenopus oocytes in vitro, but whether it can be used to induce ovulation in vivo has not been examined. Here we compared the ability of four mammalian LH proteins, bovine (bLH), human (hLH), ovine (oLH), porcine (pLH), to induce ovulation in Xenopus when injected into the dorsal lymph sac of sexually mature females. We find that both ovine and human LH, but not bovine or porcine, are good substitutes for hCG for induction of ovulation in WT and J strain Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis.
  • Article
    Maternal Wnt11b regulates cortical rotation during Xenopus axis formation: analysis of maternal-effect wnt11b mutants
    (The Company of Biologists, 2022-09-08) Houston, Douglas W. ; Elliott, Karen L. ; Coppenrath, Kelsey ; Wlizla, Marcin ; Horb, Marko E.
    Asymmetric signalling centres in the early embryo are essential for axis formation in vertebrates. These regions (e.g. amphibian dorsal morula, mammalian anterior visceral endoderm) require stabilised nuclear β-catenin, but the role of localised Wnt ligand signalling activity in their establishment remains unclear. In Xenopus, dorsal β-catenin is initiated by vegetal microtubule-mediated symmetry breaking in the fertilised egg, known as ‘cortical rotation’. Localised wnt11b mRNA and ligand-independent activators of β-catenin have been implicated in dorsal β-catenin activation, but the extent to which each contributes to axis formation in this paradigm remains unclear. Here, we describe a CRISPR-mediated maternal-effect mutation in Xenopus laevis wnt11b.L. We find that wnt11b is maternally required for robust dorsal axis formation and for timely gastrulation, and zygotically for left-right asymmetry. Importantly, we show that vegetal microtubule assembly and cortical rotation are reduced in wnt11b mutant eggs. In addition, we show that activated Wnt coreceptor Lrp6 and Dishevelled lack behaviour consistent with roles in early β-catenin stabilisation, and that neither is regulated by Wnt11b. This work thus implicates Wnt11b in the distribution of putative dorsal determinants rather than in comprising the determinants themselves.
  • Preprint
    Xenopus staufen2 is required for anterior endodermal organ formation
    ( 2011-11) Bilogan, Cassandra K. ; Horb, Marko E.
    Defining the regulatory molecular networks involved in patterning the developing anterior endoderm is essential to understanding how the pancreas, liver, stomach and duodenum are discretely specified from each other. In this study, we analyzed the expression and function of the double-stranded RNA-binding protein Staufen2 in Xenopus laevis endoderm. We found that staufen2 was broadly expressed within the developing endoderm beginning at gastrulation becoming localized to the anterior endoderm at later stages. Through morpholino-mediated knockdown, we demonstrate that Staufen2 function is required for proper formation of the stomach, liver and pancreas. We define that its function is required during gastrulation for proper patterning of the dorsal-ventral axis and that it acts to regulate expression of BMP signaling components.
  • Preprint
    Xenopus as a model for GI/pancreas disease
    ( 2015-03) Salanga, Matthew C. ; Horb, Marko E.
    Diseases affecting endodermal organs like the pancreas, lung and gastrointestinal (GI) tract have a substantial impact on human welfare. Since many of these are congenital defects that arise as a result of defects during development broad efforts are focused on understanding the development of these organs so as to better identify risk factors, disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets. Studies implementing model systems, like the amphibian Xenopus, have contributed immensely to our understanding of signaling (e.g. Wnt, FGF, BMP, RA) pathways and gene regulation (e.g. hhex, ptf1a, ngn3) that underlie normal development as well as disease progression. Recent advances in genome engineering further enhance the capabilities of the Xenopus model system for pursuing biomedical research, and will undoubtedly result in a boom of new information underlying disease mechanisms ultimately leading to advancements in diagnosis and therapy.
  • Preprint
    Targeted knockout of lhx1 via CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in the Xenopus laevis kidney
    ( 2017-09-29) DeLay, Bridget D. ; Corkins, Mark E. ; Hanania, Hannah L. ; Salanga, Matthew C. ; Deng, Jian Min ; Sudou, Norihiro ; Taira, Masanori ; Horb, Marko E. ; Miller, Rachel K.
    Studying genes involved in organogenesis is often difficult because many of these genes are also essential for early development. The allotetraploid frog, Xenopus laevis, is commonly used to study developmental processes, but because of the presence of two homeologs for many genes, it has been difficult to use as a genetic model. Few studies have successfully used CRISPR in amphibians, and currently there is no tissue-targeted knockout strategy described in Xenopus. The goal of this study is to determine whether CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene knockout can be targeted to the Xenopus kidney without perturbing essential early gene function. We demonstrate that targeting CRISPR gene editing to the kidney and the eye of F0 embryos is feasible. Our study shows that knockout of both homeologs of lhx1 results in the disruption of kidney development and function but does not lead to early developmental defects. Therefore, targeting of CRISPR to the kidney may not be necessary to bypass the early developmental defects reported upon disruption of Lhx1 protein expression or function by morpholinos, antisense RNA, or dominant negative constructs. We also establish a control for CRISPR in Xenopus by editing a gene (slc45a2) that when knocked out results in albinism without altering kidney development. This study establishes the feasibility of tissue-specific gene knockout in Xenopus, providing a cost effective and efficient method for assessing the roles of genes implicated in developmental abnormalities that is amenable to high-throughput gene or drug screening techniques.
  • Preprint
    Development of xenopus resource centers : the national xenopus resource and the european xenopus resource center
    ( 2011-07) Pearl, Esther J. ; Grainger, Robert M. ; Guille, Matthew ; Horb, Marko E.
    Xenopus is an essential vertebrate model system for biomedical research that has contributed to important discoveries in many disciplines, including cell biology, molecular biology, physiology, developmental biology and neurobiology. However, unlike other model systems no central repository/stock center for Xenopus had been established until recently. Similar to mouse, zebrafish and fly communities, which have established stock centers, Xenopus researchers need to maintain and distribute rapidly growing numbers of inbred, mutant and transgenic frog strains, along with DNA and protein resources, and individual laboratories struggle to accomplish this efficiently. In the last five years two resource centers were founded to address this need: the European Xenopus Resource Center (EXRC) at the University of Portsmouth in England, and the National Xenopus Resource (NXR) at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, USA. These two centers work together to provide resources and support to the Xenopus research community. The EXRC and NXR serve as stock centers and acquire, produce, maintain and distribute mutant, inbred and transgenic X. laevis and X. tropicalis lines. Independently, the EXRC is a repository for Xenopus cDNAs, fosmids and antibodies; it also provides oocytes and wild type frogs within the UK. The NXR will complement these services by providing research training and promoting intellectual interchange through hosting minicourses and workshops and offering space for researchers to perform short-term projects at the MBL. Together the EXRC and NXR will enable researchers to improve productivity by providing resources and expertise to all levels, from graduate students to experienced PIs. These two centers will also enable investigators that use other animal systems to take advantage of Xenopus’ unique experimental features to complement their studies.
  • Article
    FXR1 splicing is important for muscle development and biomolecular condensates in muscle cells
    (Rockefeller University Press, 2020-03-13) Smith, Jean A. ; Curry, Ennessa G. ; Blue, R. Eric ; Roden, Christine ; Dundon, Samantha E.R. ; Rodríguez-Vargas, Anthony ; Jordan, Danielle C. ; Chen, Xiaomin ; Lyons, Shawn M. ; Crutchley, John M. ; Anderson, Paul ; Horb, Marko E. ; Gladfelter, Amy S. ; Giudice, Jimena
    Fragile-X mental retardation autosomal homologue-1 (FXR1) is a muscle-enriched RNA-binding protein. FXR1 depletion is perinatally lethal in mice, Xenopus, and zebrafish; however, the mechanisms driving these phenotypes remain unclear. The FXR1 gene undergoes alternative splicing, producing multiple protein isoforms and mis-splicing has been implicated in disease. Furthermore, mutations that cause frameshifts in muscle-specific isoforms result in congenital multi-minicore myopathy. We observed that FXR1 alternative splicing is pronounced in the serine- and arginine-rich intrinsically disordered domain; these domains are known to promote biomolecular condensation. Here, we show that tissue-specific splicing of fxr1 is required for Xenopus development and alters the disordered domain of FXR1. FXR1 isoforms vary in the formation of RNA-dependent biomolecular condensates in cells and in vitro. This work shows that regulation of tissue-specific splicing can influence FXR1 condensates in muscle development and how mis-splicing promotes disease.
  • Preprint
    Transient expression of Ngn3 in Xenopus endoderm promotes early and ectopic development of pancreatic beta and delta cells
    ( 2011-11) Oropeza, Daniel ; Horb, Marko E.
    Promoting ectopic development of pancreatic beta cells from other cell types is one of the strategies being pursued for the treatment of diabetes. To achieve this, a detailed outline of the molecular lineage that operates in pancreatic progenitor cells to generate beta cells over other endocrine cell types is necessary. Here, we demonstrate that early transient expression of the endocrine progenitor bHLH protein Neurogenin 3 (Ngn3) favors the promotion of pancreatic beta and delta cell fates over an alpha cell fate, while later transient expression promotes ectopic development of all three endocrine cell fates. We found that short-term activation of Ngn3 in Xenopus laevis endoderm just after gastrulation was sufficient to promote both early and ectopic development of beta and delta cells. By examining gene expression changes four hours after Ngn3 activation we identified several new downstream targets of Ngn3. We show that several of these are required for the promotion of ectopic beta cells by Ngn3 as well as for normal beta cell development. These results provide new detail regarding the Ngn3 transcriptional network operating in endocrine progenitor cells to specify a beta cell phenotype and should help define new approaches to promote ectopic development of beta cells for diabetes therapy.
  • Preprint
    Transcriptomic insights into genetic diversity of protein-coding genes in X. laevis
    ( 2017-03) Savova, Virginia ; Pearl, Esther J. ; Boke, Elvan ; Nag, Anwesha ; Adzhubei, Ivan ; Horb, Marko E. ; Peshkin, Leonid
    We characterize the genetic diversity of Xenopus laevis strains using RNA-seq data and allele- specific analysis. This data provides a catalogue of coding variation, which can be used for improving the genomic sequence, as well as for better sequence alignment, probe design, and proteomic analysis. In addition, we paint a broad picture of the genetic landscape of the species by functionally annotating different classes of mutations with a well-established prediction tool (PolyPhen-2). Further, we specifically compare the variation in the progeny of four crosses: inbred genomic (J)- strain, outbred albino (B)-strain, and two hybrid crosses of J and B strains. We identify a subset of mutations specific to the B strain, which allows us to investigate the selection pressures affecting duplicated genes in this allotetraploid. From these crosses we find the ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous mutations is lower in duplicated genes, which suggests that they are under greater purifying selection. Surprisingly, we also find that function-altering ("damaging") mutations constitute a greater fraction of the non-synonymous variants in this group, which suggests a role for subfunctionalization in coding variation affecting duplicated genes.
  • Article
    Generation of a Xenopus laevis F1 albino J strain by genome editing and oocyte host-transfer
    (Elsevier, 2016-03-15) Ratzan, Wil ; Falco, Rosalia ; Salanga, Cristy ; Salanga, Matthew C. ; Horb, Marko E.
    Completion of the Xenopus laevis genome sequence from inbred J strain animals has facilitated the generation of germline mutant X. laevis using targeted genome editing. In the last few years, numerous reports have demonstrated that TALENs are able to induce mutations in F0 Xenopus embryos, but none has demonstrated germline transmission of such mutations in X. laevis. In this report we used the oocyte host-transfer method to generate mutations in both tyrosinase homeologs and found highly-penetrant germline mutations; in contrast, embryonic injections yielded few germline mutations. We also compared the distribution of mutations in several F0 somatic tissues and germ cells and found that the majority of mutations in each tissue were different. These results establish that X. laevis J strain animals are very useful for generating germline mutations and that the oocyte host-transfer method is an efficient technique for generating mutations in both homeologs.
  • Article
    Endogenous retroviruses augment amphibian (Xenopus laevis) tadpole antiviral protection
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-05-16) Kalia, Namarta ; Hauser, Kelsey A. ; Burton, Sarah ; Hossainey, Muhammad Riadul Haque ; Zelle, Mira ; Horb, Marko E. ; Grayfer, Leon
    The global amphibian declines are compounded by infections with members of the Ranavirus genus such as Frog Virus 3 (FV3). Premetamorphic anuran amphibians are believed to be significantly more susceptible to FV3 while this pathogen targets the kidneys of both pre- and postmetamorphic animals. Paradoxically, FV3-challenged Xenopus laevis tadpoles exhibit lower kidney viral loads than adult frogs. Presently, we demonstrate that X. laevis tadpoles are intrinsically more resistant to FV3 kidney infections than cohort-matched metamorphic and postmetamorphic froglets and that this resistance appears to be epigenetically conferred by endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). Using a X. laevis kidney-derived cell line, we show that enhancing ERV gene expression activates cellular double-stranded RNA-sensing pathways, resulting in elevated mRNA levels of antiviral interferon (IFN) cytokines and thus greater anti-FV3 protection. Finally, our results indicate that large esterase-positive myeloid-lineage cells, rather than renal cells, are responsible for the elevated ERV/IFN axis seen in the tadpole kidneys. This conclusion is supported by our observation that CRISPR-Cas9 ablation of colony-stimulating factor-3 results in abolished homing of these myeloid cells to tadpole kidneys, concurrent with significantly abolished tadpole kidney expression of both ERVs and IFNs. We believe that the manuscript marks an important step forward in understanding the mechanisms controlling amphibian antiviral defenses and thus susceptibility and resistance to pathogens like FV3.
  • Article
    Expanding the genetic toolkit in Xenopus : approaches and opportunities for human disease modeling
    (Elsevier, 2016-04-22) Tandon, Panna ; Conlon, Frank ; Furlow, J. David ; Horb, Marko E.
    The amphibian model Xenopus, has been used extensively over the past century to study multiple aspects of cell and developmental biology. Xenopus offers advantages of a non-mammalian system, including high fecundity, external development, and simple housing requirements, with additional advantages of large embryos, highly conserved developmental processes, and close evolutionary relationship to higher vertebrates. There are two main species of Xenopus used in biomedical research, Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis; the common perception is that both species are excellent models for embryological and cell biological studies, but only Xenopus tropicalis is useful as a genetic model. The recent completion of the Xenopus laevis genome sequence combined with implementation of genome editing tools, such as TALENs (transcription activator-like effector nucleases) and CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR associated nucleases), greatly facilitates the use of both Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis for understanding gene function in development and disease. In this paper, we review recent advances made in Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis with TALENs and CRISPR-Cas and discuss the various approaches that have been used to generate knockout and knock-in animals in both species. These advances show that both Xenopus species are useful for genetic approaches and in particular counters the notion that Xenopus laevis is not amenable to genetic manipulations.
  • Article
    Deep learning is widely applicable to phenotyping embryonic development and disease
    (The Company of Biologists, 2021-11-05) Naert, Thomas ; Çiçek, Özgün ; Ogar, Paulina ; Bürgi, Max ; Shaidani, Nikko-Ideen ; Kaminski, Michael M. ; Xu, Yuxiao ; Grand, Kelli ; Vujanovic, Marko ; Prata, Daniel ; Hildebrandt, Friedhelm ; Brox, Thomas ; Ronneberger, Olaf ; Voigt, Fabian F. ; Helmchen, Fritjof ; Loffing, Johannes ; Horb, Marko E. ; Rankin Willsey, Helen ; Lienkamp, Soeren S.
    Genome editing simplifies the generation of new animal models for congenital disorders. However, the detailed and unbiased phenotypic assessment of altered embryonic development remains a challenge. Here, we explore how deep learning (U-Net) can automate segmentation tasks in various imaging modalities, and we quantify phenotypes of altered renal, neural and craniofacial development in Xenopus embryos in comparison with normal variability. We demonstrate the utility of this approach in embryos with polycystic kidneys (pkd1 and pkd2) and craniofacial dysmorphia (six1). We highlight how in toto light-sheet microscopy facilitates accurate reconstruction of brain and craniofacial structures within X. tropicalis embryos upon dyrk1a and six1 loss of function or treatment with retinoic acid inhibitors. These tools increase the sensitivity and throughput of evaluating developmental malformations caused by chemical or genetic disruption. Furthermore, we provide a library of pre-trained networks and detailed instructions for applying deep learning to the reader's own datasets. We demonstrate the versatility, precision and scalability of deep neural network phenotyping on embryonic disease models. By combining light-sheet microscopy and deep learning, we provide a framework for higher-throughput characterization of embryonic model organisms.