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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 Jun 18;11625:12353-12362. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1902126116.
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Possible cooption of a VEGF-driven tubulogenesis program for biomineralization in echinoderms.

Morgulis M , Gildor T , Roopin M , Sher N , Malik A , Lalzar M , Dines M , Ben-Tabou de-Leon S , Khalaily L , Ben-Tabou de-Leon S .

Biomineralization is the process by which living organisms use minerals to form hard structures that protect and support them. Biomineralization is believed to have evolved rapidly and independently in different phyla utilizing preexisting components. The mechanistic understanding of the regulatory networks that drive biomineralization and their evolution is far from clear. Sea urchin skeletogenesis is an excellent model system for studying both gene regulation and mineral uptake and deposition. The sea urchin calcite spicules are formed within a tubular cavity generated by the skeletogenic cells controlled by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling. The VEGF pathway is essential for biomineralization in echinoderms, while in many other phyla, across metazoans, it controls tubulogenesis and vascularization. Despite the critical role of VEGF signaling in sea urchin spiculogenesis, the downstream program it activates was largely unknown. Here we study the cellular and molecular machinery activated by the VEGF pathway during sea urchin spiculogenesis and reveal multiple parallels to the regulation of vertebrate vascularization. Human VEGF rescues sea urchin VEGF knockdown, vesicle deposition into an internal cavity plays a significant role in both systems, and sea urchin VEGF signaling activates hundreds of genes, including biomineralization and interestingly, vascularization genes. Moreover, five upstream transcription factors and three signaling genes that drive spiculogenesis are homologous to vertebrate factors that control vascularization. Overall, our findings suggest that sea urchin spiculogenesis and vertebrate vascularization diverged from a common ancestral tubulogenesis program, broadly adapted for vascularization and specifically coopted for biomineralization in the echinoderm phylum.

PubMed ID: 31152134
PMC ID: PMC6589685
Article link: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC115922368 vegfc
Morpholinos: LOC582939 MO1 LOC582939 MO2

References [+] :
Adomako-Ankomah, Growth factor-mediated mesodermal cell guidance and skeletogenesis during sea urchin gastrulation. 2013, Pubmed, Echinobase