A Sprouty4 reporter to monitor FGF/ERK signaling activity in ESCs and mice

Publication date: Available online 30 June 2018
Source:Developmental Biology
Author(s): Sophie M. Morgani, Nestor Saiz, Vidur Garg, Dhruv Raina, Claire S. Simon, Minjung Kang, Alfonso Martinez Arias, Jennifer N. Nichols, Christian Schröter, Anna-Katerina Hadjantonakis
The FGF/ERK signaling pathway is highly conserved throughout evolution and plays fundamental roles during embryonic development and in adult organisms. While a plethora of expression data exists for ligands, receptors and pathway regulators, we know little about the spatial organization or dynamics of signaling in individual cells within populations. To this end we developed a transcriptional readout of FGF/ERK activity by targeting a histone H2B-linked Venus fluorophore to the endogenous locus of Spry4, an early pathway target, and generated Spry4H2B-Venus embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and a derivative mouse line. The Spry4H2B-Venus reporter was heterogeneously expressed within ESC cultures and responded to FGF/ERK signaling manipulation. In vivo, the Spry4H2B-Venus reporter recapitulated the expression pattern of Spry4 and localized to sites of known FGF/ERK activity including the inner cell mass of the pre-implantation embryo and the limb buds, somites and isthmus of the post-implantation embryo. Additionally, we observed highly localized reporter expression within adult organs. Genetic and chemical disruption of FGF/ERK signaling, in vivo in pre- and post-implantation embryos, abrogated Venus expression establishing the reporter as an accurate signaling readout. This tool will provide new insights into the dynamics of the FGF/ERK signaling pathway during mammalian development.