staff

Yvan Wenger

Postdoctoral fellow in Regeneration

  • T: +41 22 379 35 17
  • office 4041 (Sciences III)
  • How Somatic Adult Tissues Develop Organizer Activity. Curr. Top. Dev. Biol. 2016 ;116():391-414. S0070-2153(15)00121-0. 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2015.11.002.

    abstract

    The growth and patterning of anatomical structures from specific cellular fields in developing organisms relies on organizing centers that instruct surrounding cells to modify their behavior, namely migration, proliferation, and differentiation. We discuss here how organizers can form in adult organisms, a process of utmost interest for regenerative medicine. Animals like Hydra and planarians, which maintain their shape and fitness thanks to a highly dynamic homeostasis, offer a useful paradigm to study adult organizers in steady-state conditions. Beside the homeostatic context, these model systems also offer the possibility to study how organizers form de novo from somatic adult tissues. Both extracellular matrix remodeling and caspase activation play a key role in this transition, acting as promoters of organizer formation in the vicinity of the wound. Their respective roles and the crosstalk between them just start to be deciphered.

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  • Multi-functionality and plasticity characterize epithelial cells in Hydra. Tissue Barriers ;3(4):e1068908. 10.1080/21688370.2015.1068908. 1068908. PMC4681288.

    abstract

    Epithelial sheets, a synapomorphy of all metazoans but porifers, are present as 2 layers in cnidarians, ectoderm and endoderm, joined at their basal side by an extra-cellular matrix named mesoglea. In the Hydra polyp, epithelial cells of the body column are unipotent stem cells that continuously self-renew and concomitantly express their epitheliomuscular features. These multifunctional contractile cells maintain homeostasis by providing a protective physical barrier, by digesting nutrients, by selecting a stable microbiota, and by rapidly closing wounds. In addition, epithelial cells are highly plastic, supporting the adaptation of Hydra to physiological and environmental changes, such as long starvation periods where survival relies on a highly dynamic autophagy flux. Epithelial cells also play key roles in developmental processes as evidenced by the organizer activity they develop to promote budding and regeneration. We propose here an integrative view of the homeostatic and developmental aspects of epithelial plasticity in Hydra.

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  • Loss of neurogenesis in Hydra leads to compensatory regulation of neurogenic and neurotransmission genes in epithelial cells. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 2016 Jan;371(1685):20150040. rstb.2015.0040. 10.1098/rstb.2015.0040. PMC4685579.

    abstract

    Hydra continuously differentiates a sophisticated nervous system made of mechanosensory cells (nematocytes) and sensory-motor and ganglionic neurons from interstitial stem cells. However, this dynamic adult neurogenesis is dispensable for morphogenesis. Indeed animals depleted of their interstitial stem cells and interstitial progenitors lose their active behaviours but maintain their developmental fitness, and regenerate and bud when force-fed. To characterize the impact of the loss of neurogenesis in Hydra, we first performed transcriptomic profiling at five positions along the body axis. We found neurogenic genes predominantly expressed along the central body column, which contains stem cells and progenitors, and neurotransmission genes predominantly expressed at the extremities, where the nervous system is dense. Next, we performed transcriptomics on animals depleted of their interstitial cells by hydroxyurea, colchicine or heat-shock treatment. By crossing these results with cell-type-specific transcriptomics, we identified epithelial genes up-regulated upon loss of neurogenesis: transcription factors (Dlx, Dlx1, DMBX1/Manacle, Ets1, Gli3, KLF11, LMX1A, ZNF436, Shox1), epitheliopeptides (Arminins, PW peptide), neurosignalling components (CAMK1D, DDCl2, Inx1), ligand-ion channel receptors (CHRNA1, NaC7), G-Protein Coupled Receptors and FMRFRL. Hence epitheliomuscular cells seemingly enhance their sensing ability when neurogenesis is compromised. This unsuspected plasticity might reflect the extended multifunctionality of epithelial-like cells in early eumetazoan evolution.

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  • Multifunctionality and plasticity characterize epithelial cells in Hydra DOI:10.1080/21688370.2015.1068908

    abstract

    Epithelial sheets, a synapomorphy of all metazoans but porifers, are present as 2 layers in cnidarians, ectoderm and endoderm, joined at their basal side by an extra-cellular matrix named mesoglea. In the Hydra polyp, epithelial cells of the body column are unipotent stem cells that continuously self-renew and concomitantly express their epitheliomuscular features. These multifunctional contractile cells maintain homeostasis by providing a protective physical barrier, by digesting nutrients, by selecting a stable microbiota, and by rapidly closing wounds. In addition, epithelial cells are highly plastic, supporting the adaptation of Hydra to physiological and environmental changes, such as long starvation periods where survival relies on a highly dynamic autophagy flux. Epithelial cells also play key roles in developmental processes as evidenced by the organizer activity they develop to promote budding and regeneration. We propose here an integrative view of the homeostatic and developmental aspects of epithelial plasticity in Hydra.

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  • Injury-induced immune responses in Hydra. Semin. Immunol. 2014 Aug;26(4):277-94. S1044-5323(14)00061-X. 10.1016/j.smim.2014.06.004.

    abstract

    The impact of injury-induced immune responses on animal regenerative processes is highly variable, positive or negative depending on the context. This likely reflects the complexity of the innate immune system that behaves as a sentinel in the transition from injury to regeneration. Early-branching invertebrates with high regenerative potential as Hydra provide a unique framework to dissect how injury-induced immune responses impact regeneration. A series of early cellular events likely require an efficient immune response after amputation, as antimicrobial defence, epithelial cell stretching for wound closure, migration of interstitial progenitors toward the wound, cell death, phagocytosis of cell debris, or reconstruction of the extracellular matrix. The analysis of the injury-induced transcriptomic modulations of 2636 genes annotated as immune genes in Hydra identified 43 genes showing an immediate/early pulse regulation in all regenerative contexts examined. These regulations point to an enhanced cytoprotection via ROS signaling (Nrf, C/EBP, p62/SQSMT1-l2), TNFR and TLR signaling (TNFR16-like, TRAF2l, TRAF5l, jun, fos-related, SIK2, ATF1/CREB, LRRC28, LRRC40, LRRK2), proteasomal activity (p62/SQSMT1-l1, Ced6/Gulf, NEDD8-conjugating enzyme Ubc12), stress proteins (CRYAB1, CRYAB2, HSP16.2, DnaJB9, HSP90a1), all potentially regulating NF-κB activity. Other genes encoding immune-annotated proteins such as NPYR4, GTPases, Swap70, the antiproliferative BTG1, enzymes involved in lipid metabolism (5-lipoxygenase, ACSF4), secreted clotting factors, secreted peptidases are also pulse regulated upon bisection. By contrast, metalloproteinases and antimicrobial peptide genes largely follow a context-dependent regulation, whereas the protease inhibitor α2macroglobulin gene exhibits a sustained up-regulation. Hence a complex immune response to injury is linked to wound healing and regeneration in Hydra.

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  • Punctuated emergences of genetic and phenotypic innovations in eumetazoan, bilaterian, euteleostome, and hominidae ancestors. Genome Biol Evol 2013 ;5(10):1949-68. evt142. 10.1093/gbe/evt142. PMC3814200.

    abstract

    Phenotypic traits derive from the selective recruitment of genetic materials over macroevolutionary times, and protein-coding genes constitute an essential component of these materials. We took advantage of the recent production of genomic scale data from sponges and cnidarians, sister groups from eumetazoans and bilaterians, respectively, to date the emergence of human proteins and to infer the timing of acquisition of novel traits through metazoan evolution. Comparing the proteomes of 23 eukaryotes, we find that 33% human proteins have an ortholog in nonmetazoan species. This premetazoan proteome associates with 43% of all annotated human biological processes. Subsequently, four major waves of innovations can be inferred in the last common ancestors of eumetazoans, bilaterians, euteleostomi (bony vertebrates), and hominidae, largely specific to each epoch, whereas early branching deuterostome and chordate phyla show very few innovations. Interestingly, groups of proteins that act together in their modern human functions often originated concomitantly, although the corresponding human phenotypes frequently emerged later. For example, the three cnidarians Acropora, Nematostella, and Hydra express a highly similar protein inventory, and their protein innovations can be affiliated either to traits shared by all eumetazoans (gut differentiation, neurogenesis); or to bilaterian traits present in only some cnidarians (eyes, striated muscle); or to traits not identified yet in this phylum (mesodermal layer, endocrine glands). The variable correspondence between phenotypes predicted from protein enrichments and observed phenotypes suggests that a parallel mechanism repeatedly produce similar phenotypes, thanks to novel regulatory events that independently tie preexisting conserved genetic modules.

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  • RNAseq versus genome-predicted transcriptomes: a large population of novel transcripts identified in an Illumina-454 Hydra transcriptome. BMC Genomics 2013 ;14():204. 1471-2164-14-204. 10.1186/1471-2164-14-204. PMC3764976.

    abstract

    Evolutionary studies benefit from deep sequencing technologies that generate genomic and transcriptomic sequences from a variety of organisms. Genome sequencing and RNAseq have complementary strengths. In this study, we present the assembly of the most complete Hydra transcriptome to date along with a comparative analysis of the specific features of RNAseq and genome-predicted transcriptomes currently available in the freshwater hydrozoan Hydra vulgaris.

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  • Injury-induced activation of the MAPK/CREB pathway triggers apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation in hydra head regeneration. Dev. Growth Differ. 2011 Feb;53(2):186-201. 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2011.01250.x.

    abstract

    After bisection, Hydra polyps regenerate their head from the lower half thanks to a head-organizer activity that is rapidly established at the tip. Head regeneration is also highly plastic as both the wild-type and the epithelial Hydra (that lack the interstitial cell lineage) can regenerate their head. In the wild-type context, we previously showed that after mid-gastric bisection, a large subset of the interstitial cells undergo apoptosis, inducing compensatory proliferation of the surrounding progenitors. This asymmetric process is necessary and sufficient to launch head regeneration. The apoptotic cells transiently release Wnt3, which promotes the formation of a proliferative zone by activating the beta-catenin pathway in the adjacent cycling cells. However the injury-induced signaling that triggers apoptosis is unknown. We previously reported an asymmetric immediate activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/ribosomal S6 kinase/cAMP response element binding protein (MAPK/RSK/CREB) pathway in head-regenerating tips after mid-gastric bisection. We show here that pharmacological inhibition of the MAPK/ERK pathway or RNAi knockdown of the RSK, CREB, CREB binding protein (CBP) genes prevents apoptosis, compensatory proliferation and blocks head regeneration. As the activation of the MAPK pathway upon injury plays an essential role in regenerating bilaterian species, these results suggest that the MAPK-dependent activation of apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation represents an evolutionary-conserved mechanism to launch a regenerative process.

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  • Apoptotic cells provide an unexpected source of Wnt3 signaling to drive hydra head regeneration. Dev. Cell 2009 Aug;17(2):279-89. S1534-5807(09)00298-6. 10.1016/j.devcel.2009.07.014.

    abstract

    Decapitated Hydra regenerate their heads via morphallaxis, i.e., without significant contributions made by cell proliferation or interstitial stem cells. Indeed, Hydra depleted of interstitial stem cells regenerate robustly, and Wnt3 from epithelial cells triggers head regeneration. However, we find a different mechanism controlling regeneration after midgastric bisection in animals equipped with both epithelial and interstitial cell lineages. In this context, we see rapid induction of apoptosis and Wnt3 secretion among interstitial cells at the head- (but not foot-) regenerating site. Apoptosis is both necessary and sufficient to induce Wnt3 production and head regeneration, even at ectopic sites. Further, we identify a zone of proliferation beneath the apoptotic zone, reminiscent of proliferative blastemas in regenerating limbs and of compensatory proliferation induced by dying cells in Drosophila imaginal discs. We propose that different types of injuries induce distinct cellular modes of Hydra head regeneration, which nonetheless converge on a central effector, Wnt3.

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