Developmental Genomics of Ascidians

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-12-31
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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The simplicity and lack of redundancy in their regulatory genes have made ascidians one of the most useful species in studying developmental genomics. In Developmental Genomics of Ascidians, Dr. Noriyuki Satoh explains the developmental genomics of ascidians, stresses the simplicity of Ciona developmental system, and emphasizes single-cell level analyses. This book actively accentuates the advantages of using ascidians as model organisms in an up-and-coming field of developmental genomics.

Table of Contents

“Developmental Genomics of Ascidians” Contents


Chapter 1. A brief introduction to ascidians: Here, taxonomy and reproduction of ascidians, and history of research on ascidian embryos are introduced briefly to readers.

Chapter 2. The development of tadpole larvae and sessile juveniles: Ascidian embryogenesis to form tadpole larvae and juveniles is briefly described, in order to lay the background for discussion of their developmental genomics in the following chapters.

Chapter 3. Genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics: The goal of developmental genomics is to discover the “common words” across organismal complexity that are responsible for the establishment of the metazoan body plan. To what extent we can tackle this challenge largely depends on the strength of the relevant infrastructure. This chapter introduces ascidian genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics, which have thus far been characterized mainly in Ciona intestinalis.

Chapter 4. Research tools: One of the most striking advantages of ascidians is that one can analyze developmental events at the single cell level. Various research tools are explained.

Chapter 5. The function and regulation of maternal transcripts: Since Chabry’s experiments in 1887 and Conklin’s description in 1905, the ascidian has been regarded as an organism that exhibits a typical mosaic mode of embryogenesis. An enormous contribution of maternally supplied factors is discussed here.

Chapter 6. Larval tail muscle: Since the discovery of muscle determinants, the ascidian embryonic cell has served as an experimental system to explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the autonomous specification of embryonic cells. Here the genetic cascades involved in muscle cell differentiation are discussed.

Chapter 7. Endoderm: The endodermal tissue of the Ciona tadpole larva consists of about 500 cells. The endodermal cells play pivotal roles in the establishment of the chordate body plan via signaling to induce the development of mesodermal and ectodermal tissues, which is discussed here.

Chapter 8. Epidermis: The ascidian embryonic epidermis has at least two unique features with respect to metazoan embryogenesis. The first is early fate determination, a general feature of ascidian development. The second attribute reflects the fact that tunicates, including ascidians, are the only animal group that can independently synthesize cellulose, a process that occurs in the larval epidermis. Accordingly, Ciona provides an outstanding experimental system in which to explore the molecular mechanisms of cellulose biosynthesis. Genetic cascades involved in these processes are discussed.

Chapter 9. Notochord: The notochord is the most prominent feature of chordates and has two distinct biological functions, first as an axial organ and second as a supportive organ of the chordate larval tail. The elucidation of the genetic regulatory network that governs notochord development in ascidian embryos therefore guides our understanding of chordate evolution itself, which are discussed here.

Chapter 10. The nervous system: The ascidian nervous system is quite simple as compared to that of vertebrates. The CNS of Ciona consists of only ~300 cells, about one-third of which are neurons, while the remainder are non-neuronal ependymal or glial cells. Taking advantage of the structural simplicity and genomic information available in this model organism, the predominant mechanisms underlying CNS development will be described at the single cell level.

Chapter 11. Mesenchyme: Recent lineage tracing experiments have revealed that the embryonic mesenchymal cells only give rise to tunic and blood cells. By contrast, two other mesenchymal lines, namely the trunk lateral cells (TLCs) and trunk ventral cells (TVCs), are responsible for the development of major adult mesodermal tissues. The lineage and specification mechanisms of each of the three lines have been determined at the single cell level. 

Chapter 12. Making a blueprint of the chordate body: dynamic activities of regulatory genes: Chapters
5–11 addressed the specification of ascidian embryonic cell fate to give rise to one type of larval tissue and the regulatory genes (transcription factors and signaling pathway molecules) involved in these processes. This chapter is an attempt to understand how the chordate body plan blueprint is established by the embryo as a whole. The Ciona genome contains approximately 330 core transcription factors and 119 major signaling pathway molecules. How is the expression of these genes coordinated to lead to the construction of such a blueprint? The question is addressed here.

Chapter 13. Development of the juvenile heart: Since the discovery of tinman,the genetic regulatory network
(GRN) involved in heart development has been extensively documented using a variety of experimental systems in both flies and vertebrates. Ciona heart development provides another attractive experimental system to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms from the beginning of fertilization to the final stage of heart formation at the single cell level.

Chapter 14. Germ cell lines and stem cells: In metazoans, genetic information is transmitted to subsequent generations only through germ cells. Dependent on animal groups, the germline is separated by maternal factors from the somatic line very early during embryogenesis or it is formed with inductive signaling during later embryogenesis. Ciona provides an experimental system to study both mechanisms in a single species, which is discussed here.

Chapter 15. Self/non-self recognition systems and the ascidian innate immunity system: The ability to discriminate self from non-self, also called allorecognition, is essential for individuals to survive under various conditions. Since ascidians are hermaphrodite and some are colonial, they provide interesting systems to study mechanisms of self/non-self recognition. Recent advance in this research field is discussed. 

Chapter 16. Evolutionary embryology of ascidians: The evolutionary modifications that phenotypically distinguish groups of living organisms often reflect underlying molecular changes that affect the embryonic development of those groups. Therefore, one must first understand embryonic development in order to accurately interpret aspects of metazoan evolution. Recent advances in ascidian developmental genomics, as described in previous chapters, provide a framework within which we discuss current theories on ascidian evolution. The evolutionary aspects of ascidian development can be approached from at least three levels—with respect to the phylum (Chordata), the subphylum (Urochordata), and the species. Several topics at each level will be presented in this chapter.

Appendix: Several websites related to ascidian bioinformatics resources are supplied.

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