A novel gene’s role in an ancient mechanism: secreted Frizzled related protein 1 is a critical component in the anterior–posterior Wnt signaling network that governs the establishment of the anterior neuroectoderm in sea urchin embryos
The anterior neuroectoderm (ANE) in many deuterostome embryos (echinoderms, hemichordates, urochordates, cephalochordates, and vertebrates) is progressively restricted along the anterior–posterior axis to a domain around the anterior pole. In the sea urchin embryo, three integrated Wnt signaling branches (Wnt/β-catenin, Wnt/JNK, and Wnt/PKC) govern this progressive restriction process, which begins around the 32- to 60-cell stage and terminates by the early gastrula stage. We previously have established that several secreted Wnt modulators of the Dickkopf and secreted Frizzled-related protein families (Dkk1, Dkk3, and sFRP-1/5) are expressed within the ANE and play important roles in modulating the Wnt signaling network during this process. In this study, we use morpholino and dominant-negative interference approaches to characterize the function of a novel Frizzled-related protein, secreted Frizzled-related protein 1 (sFRP-1), during ANE restriction. sFRP-1 appears to be related to a secreted Wnt modulator, sFRP3/4, that is essential to block Wnt signaling and establish the ANE in vertebrates. Here, we show that the sea urchin sFRP3/4 orthologue is not expressed during ANE restriction in the sea urchin embryo. Instead, our results indicate that ubiquitously expressed maternal sFRP-1 and Fzl1/2/7 signaling act together as early as the 32- to 60-cell stage to antagonize the ANE restriction mechanism mediated by Wnt/β-catenin and Wnt/JNK signaling. Then, starting from the blastula stage, Fzl5/8 signaling activates zygotic sFRP-1 within the ANE territory, where it works with the secreted Wnt antagonist Dkk1 (also activated by Fzl5/8 signaling) to antagonize Wnt1/Wnt8–Fzl5/8–JNK signaling in a negative feedback mechanism that defines the outer ANE territory boundary. Together, these data indicate that maternal and zygotic sFRP-1 protects the ANE territory by antagonizing the Wnt1/Wnt8–Fzl5/8–JNK signaling pathway throughout ANE restriction, providing precise spatiotemporal control of the mechanism responsible for the establishment of the ANE territory around the anterior pole of the sea urchin embryo. The online version of this article (10.1186/s13227-017-0089-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
[…] For the phylogenetic analysis, we used truncated amino acid sequences of the Fzl-CRD domains from each protein (Additional file : Table S1). The extracted sequences were aligned using Muscle  and manually edited with BioEdit . Phylogenetic relationships among them were estimated using maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches. We run maximum likelihood analyses in IQ-Tree ver 1.5.5  as implemented in the IQ-Tree web server  last accessed on June 2017 and evaluated support for the nodes with the ultrafast bootstrap method . We run Bayesian analyses in MrBayes version 3.2 , setting four simultaneous chains for 2 × 107 generations, sampling trees every 1000 generations, and using default priors. We assessed convergence by measuring the standard deviation of the split frequency among parallel chains. We summarized results with a majority-rule consensus of trees collected after convergence was reached. […]