Gene expression in sea urchin development: Study of LpS1 gene regulation and cloning and characterization of the SpKrox-1 gene

Weiye Wang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Cell differentiation are associated with activation of cell lineage-specific genes. The $LpS{\it 1}\beta$ gene of Lytechinus pictus is activated at the late cleavage stage. $LpS{\it 1}\beta$ transcripts accumulate exclusively in aboral ectoderm lineages. Previous studies demonstrated two G-string DNA-elements, proximal and distal G-strings, which bind to an ectoderm-enriched nuclear factor. In order to define the cis-elements which control positive expression of the $LpS{\it 1}\beta$ gene, the regulatory region from $-$108 to +17 bp of the $LpS{\it 1}\beta$ gene promoter was characterized. The ectoderm G-string factor binds to a G/C-rich region larger than the G-string itself and the binding of the G-string factor requires sequences immediately downstream from the G-string. These downstream sequences are essential for full promoter activity. In addition, only 108 bp of $LpS{\it 1}\beta\ 5\sp\prime$ flanking DNA drives $LpS{\it 1}\beta$ gene expression in aboral ectoderm/mesenchyme cells. Therefore, for positive control of $LpS{\it 1}\beta$ gene expression, two regions of 5$\sp\prime$ flanking DNA are required: region I from base pairs $-$762 to $-$511, and region II, which includes the G/C-rich element, from base pairs $-$108 to $-$61. A mesenchyme cell repressor element is located within region I. DNA-binding proteins play key roles in determination of cell differentiation. The zinc finger domain is a DNA-binding domain present in many transcription factors. Based on homologies in zinc fingers, a zinc finger-encoding gene, SpKrox-1, was cloned from S. purpuratus. The putative SpKrox-1 protein has all structural characteristics of a transcription factor: four zinc fingers for DNA binding; acidic domain for transactivation; basic domain for nuclear targeting; and leucine zipper for dimerization. SpKrox-1 RNA transcripts showed a transient expression pattern which correlates largely with early embryonic development. The spatial expression of SpKrox-1 mRNA was distributed throughout the gastrula and larva ectodermal wall. However, SpKrox-1 was not expressed in pigment cells. The SpKrox-1 gene is thus a marker of a subset of SMCs or ectoderm cells. The structural features, and the transient temporal and restricted spatial expression patterns suggest that SpKrox-1 plays a role in a specific developmental event.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biochemistry|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Wang, Weiye, "Gene expression in sea urchin development: Study of LpS1 gene regulation and cloning and characterization of the SpKrox-1 gene" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9600565.