The orphan nuclear receptor COUP-TFI (Nr2f1) regulates many aspects of mammalian development, but little is known about its role in cochlear hair cell and Deiter's support cell development. The COUP-TFI knockout( COUP-TFI -/- ) has a significant increase in hair cell (HC)number in the mid-to-apical turns. The total number of hair cells is not increased over wild type, perhaps because of displaced hair cells and a shortened cochlear duct. This implicates a defect of convergent-extension in the COUP-TFI -/- duct. In addition, excess proliferation in the COUP-TFI -/- sensory epithelium indicates that the origin of the extra HCs in the apex is complex. Because loss-of-function studies of Notch signaling components have similar phenotypes, we investigated Notch regulation of hair cell differentiation in COUP-TFI -/- mice and confirmed misregulation of Notch signaling components, including Jag1, Hes5 and in a manner consistent with reduced Notch signaling,and correlated with increases in hair cell and support cell differentiation. The disruption of Notch signaling by a γ-secretase inhibitor in an in vitro organ culture system of wild-type cochleae resulted in a reduction in expression of the Notch target gene Hes5 and an increase in hair cell differentiation. Importantly, inhibition of Notch activity resulted in a greater increase in hair cell differentiation in COUP-TFI -/- cochlear cultures than in wild-type cultures,suggesting a hypersensitivity to Notch inactivation in COUP-TFI -/- cochlea, particularly at the apical turn. Thus, we present evidence that reduced Notch signaling contributes to increases in hair cell and support cell differentiation in COUP-TFI -/- mice, and suggest that COUP-TFI is required for Notch regulation of hair cell and support cell differentiation.
Mammalian presenilins consist of two highly homologous proteins, PSEN1 and PSEN2, which share redundant activities in Notch processing and signaling. To bypass the early lethality of the Psen1 - and Psen2 -double(PSEN) null embryos, we used a human PSEN1 transgene to rescue the somite patterning defects in PSEN-null animals and to allow a determination of the function of presenilins in late embryogenesis. We report here that expression of the human PSEN1 transgene supported the survival of PSEN-null embryos to the perinatal stage. However, presenilin deficiency in the kidney led to severe nephrogenesis defects and virtually no comma- or S-shaped bodies, or mature glomeruli were formed. We document that the mesenchyme was induced which could further progress to renal vesicles in the PSEN-null kidney, indicating that the presenilins are not essential for the inductive interactions and mesenchyme to epithelium transition. However, renal vesicles failed to pattern to form proximal tubules and glomerular epithelium. A presenilin-dependent, signaling-competent form of Notch1 was detected in mesenchymal derivatives but not in the ureteric buds of wild-type mice. Consistent with an obligatory role of presenilins in Notch processing and activation, the active form of Notch1 and its downstream target Hesr1 were absent in the PSEN-null kidney. Importantly, sustained Notch1 signaling was required for the maintenance of Notch ligand Jag1 expression. These results identify presenilins as one determinant of renal vesicle patterning in the developing mouse kidney, and we hypothesize that they act through the Notch signaling pathway.