Requirement of GCN5 histone acetyltransferase in mouse neural tube closure and skeletal patterning

Wenchu Lin, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Histone acetylation plays an essential role in many DNA-related processes such as transcriptional regulation via modulation of chromatin structure. Many histone acetytransferases have been discovered and studied in the past few years, but the roles of different histone acetyltransferases (HAT) during mammalian development are not well defined at present. Gcn5 histone acetyltransferase is highly expressed until E16.5 during development. Previous studies in our lab using a constitutive null allele demonstrated that Gcn5 knock out mice are embryonic lethal, precluding the study of Gcn5 functions at later developmental stages. The creation of a conditional Gcn5 null allele, Gcn5flox allele, bypasses the early lethality. Mice homozygous for this allele are viable and appear healthy. In contrast, mice homozygous for a Gcn5 Δex3-18 allele created by Cre-loxP mediated deletion display a phenotype identical to our original Gcn5 null mice. Strikingly, a Gcn5flox(neo) allele, which contain a neomycin cassette in the second intron of Gcn5 is only partially functional and gives rise to a hypomorphic phenotype. Initiation of cranial neural tube closure at forebrain/midbrain boundary fails, resulting in an exencephaly in some Gcn5flox(neo)/flox(neo) embryos. These defects were found at an even greater penetrance in Gcn5flox(neo)/Δ embryos and become completely penetrant in the 129Sv genetic background, suggesting that Gcn5 controls mouse neural tube closure in a dose dependent manner. Furthermore, both Gcn5flox(neo)/flox(neo) and Gcn5 flox(neo)/Δ embryos exhibit anterior homeotic transformations in lower thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. These defects are accompanied by decreased expression levels and a shift in anterior expression boundary of Hoxc8 and Hoxc9. This study provides the first evidence that Gcn5 regulates Hox gene expression and is required for normal axial skeletal patterning in mice.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Lin, Wenchu, "Requirement of GCN5 histone acetyltransferase in mouse neural tube closure and skeletal patterning" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3249200.