Molecular regulatory mechanisms and embryonic tissue specification in sea urchin development

Xiaotao Li, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


To understand how a eukaryote achieves differential transcription of genes in precise spatial patterns, the molecular details of tissue specific expression of the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus Spec2a gene were investigated by functional studies of the cis-regulatory components in the upstream enhancer. Regional activation of Spec2a in the aboral ectoderm is conferred by a combination of activators and repressors. The positive regulators include previously identified SpOtx and a trans-regulatory factor binding at the CCAAT site in the Spec2a enhancer. The nuclear protein binding to the CCAAT box was determined to be the heterotrimeric CCAAT binding factor (SpCBF). SpCBF also mediates general activation in the ectoderm. The negative regulators consist of an oral ectoderm repressor (OER), an endoderm repressor (ENR), and an S. Purpuratus goosecoid homologue (SpGsc). OER functions to prevent expression in the oral ectoderm, while ENR is required to repress endoderm expression. SpGsc antagonizes the SpOtx function by competing for binding at SpOtx target genes in oral ectoderm, where it functions as an active repressor. Thus, SpOtx and SpGsc perform collectively to establish and maintain the oral-aboral axis. Finally, purification of ENR and OER proteins from sea urchin blastula stage nuclear extracts was performed using site-specific DNA-affmity chromatography.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Li, Xiaotao, "Molecular regulatory mechanisms and embryonic tissue specification in sea urchin development" (2001). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3017536.