H2B histone gene expression during Xenopus laevis development

Craig Steven Hinkley, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Histone gene expression is replication-independent during oogenesis and early embryogenesis in amphibians; however, it becomes replication-dependent during later embryogenesis and remains replication-dependent through adulthood. In order to understand the mechanism for this switch in transcriptional regulation of histone gene expression during amphibian development, linker-scanning mutations were made in a Xenopus laevis H2B histone gene promoter by oligonucleotide site-directed mutagenesis and assayed by microinjection into oocytes and embryos. The Xenopus H2B gene has a relatively simple promoter containing several transcriptional regulatory elements, including TFIID, CCAAT, and ATF motifs, required for maximal transcription in both oocytes and embryos. Factors binding to the CCAAT and ATF motifs are present in oocytes and embryos and increase slightly in abundance during early development. A sequence (CTTTACAT) in the frog H2B promoter resembling the conserved octamer motif (ATTTGCAT), the target for cell-cycle regulation of a human H2B gene, is additionally required for maximal H2B transcription in frog embryos. Oocytes and embryos contain multiple octamer-binding proteins that are expressed in a sequential manner during early development. Sequences encoding three novel octamer-binding proteins were isolated from Xenopus cDNA libraries by virtue of their similarity with the DNA binding (POU) domain of the ubiquitously expressed transcription factor Oct-1. The protein encoded by one of these genes, termed Oct-60, was localized mainly in the cytoplasm of oocytes and was also present in early embryos until the gastrula stage of development. Proteins encoded by the other two genes, Oct-25 and Oct-91, were present in embryos after the mid-blastula stage of development and decreased by early neurula stage. The activity of the Xenopus H2B octamer motif in embryos is not specifically associated with increased binding by Oct-1 or the appearance of novel octamer-binding proteins but requires the presence of an intact CCAAT motif. We found that synergistic interactions among promoter elements are important for full H2B promoter activity. The results suggest that transcription of the Xenopus H2B gene is replication-dependent when it is activated at the mid-blastula stage of development and that replication-dependent H2B transcription is mediated by Oct-1.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Hinkley, Craig Steven, "H2B histone gene expression during Xenopus laevis development" (1992). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9238498.