Vertebrate somitogenesis is regulated by a segmentation clock. Clock-linked genes exhibit cyclic expression, with a periodicity matching the rate of somite production. In mice, Lunatic fringe (Lfng) expression oscillates, and LFNG protein contributes to periodic repression of Notch signaling. We hypothesized that rapid LFNG turnover could be regulated by protein processing and secretion. Here we describe a novel Lfng allele (Rlfng) replacing the N-terminal sequences of LFNG, which allow for protein processing and secretion, with the N-terminus of Radical fringe (a Golgi resident protein). This allele is predicted to prevent protein secretion without altering the activity of LFNG, thus increasing the intracellular half-life of the protein. This allele causes dominant skeletal and somite abnormalities that are distinct from those seen in loss-of-function Lfng embryos. Expression of clock-linked genes is perturbed and mature Hes7 transcripts are stabilized in the PSMs of mutant mice, suggesting that both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of clock components are perturbed by RLFNG expression. Contrasting phenotypes in the segmentation clock and somite patterning of mutant mice suggest that LFNG protein may have context-dependent effects on Notch activity.
- Received September 8, 2015.
- Accepted January 14, 2016.