Aboral ectoderm-specific expression and regulation of the LpS1 genes of Lytechinus pictus

Mengqing Xiang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The Spec genes serve as molecular markers for examining the ontogeny of the aboral ectoderm lineage of sea urchin embryos. These genes are activated at late-cleavage stage only in cells contributing to the aboral ectoderm of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and encode 14,000-17,000 Da calcium-binding proteins. A comparative analysis was undertaken to better understand the mechanisms underlying the activation and function of the Spec genes by investigating Spec homologues from Lytechinus pictus, a distantly related sea urchin. Spec antibodies cross-reacted with 34,000 Da proteins in L. pictus embryos that displayed a similar ontogenetic pattern to that of Spec proteins. One cDNA clone, LpS1, was isolated by hybridization to a synthetic oligonucleotide corresponding to a calcium-binding domain or EF-hand. The LpS1 mRNA has developmental properties similar to those of the Spec mRNAs. LpS1 encodes a 34,000 Da protein containing eight EF-hand domains, which share structural homology with the Spec EF-hands; however, little else in the protein sequence is conserved, implying that calcium-binding is important for Spec protein function. Genomic DNA blot analysis showed two LpS1 genes, LpS1$\alpha$ and LpS1$\beta$, in L. pictus. Partial gene structures for both LpS1$\alpha$ and $\beta$ were constructed based on genomic clones isolated from an L. pictus genomic library. These revealed internal duplications of the LpS1 genes that accounted for the eight EF-hand domains in the LpS1 proteins. Sequencing analysis showed there was little in common among the 5$\sp\prime$-flanking regions of the LpS1 and Spec genes except for the presence of a binding site for the transcription factor USF. A sea urchin gene-transfer expression system showed that 762 base pairs (bp) of 5$\sp\prime$-flanking DNA from the LpS1$\beta$ gene were sufficient for correct temporal and spatial expression of reporter genes in sea urchin embryos. Deletions at the 5$\sp\prime$ end to 511, 368, or 108bp resulted in a 3-4 fold decrease in chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) activity and disrupted the restricted activation of the lac Z gene in aboral ectoderm cells. A full-length Spec1 protein and a truncated LpS1 protein were induced and partially purified from an in vitro expression system. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Xiang, Mengqing, "Aboral ectoderm-specific expression and regulation of the LpS1 genes of Lytechinus pictus" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9202581.