Accessing novel developmental mechanisms in the mouse by gene trapping

Daniel Scudder Wagner, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Genetic analysis is a powerful method for analyzing the function of specific genes in development. I sought to identify novel genes in the mouse using a genetic analysis relying on the expression pattern and phenotype of mutated genes. To this end, I have conducted a gene trap screen using the vector $\rm SA\beta geo,$ a promoterless DNA construct that encodes a fusion protein with lacZ and neomycin resistance activities. Productive integration and expression of the $\beta$geo protein in embryonic stem (ES) cells requires integration into an active transcription unit. The endogenous regulatory elements direct reporter gene expression which reflects the expression of the endogenous gene. Of eight mouse lines generated from gene trap ES cell clones, four showed differential regulation of $\beta$geo activity during embryogenesis. These four were analyzed in more detail. Three of the lines RNA 1, RNA2 and RNA 3 had similar expression patterns, within subsets of cells in sites of embryonic hematopoiesis. Cloning of the trapped genes revealed that all three integrations had occurred within 45S rRNA precursor transcription units. These results imply that there exists in these cells some mechanism responsible for the efficient production of the $\beta$geo protein from an RNA polymerase I transcript that is not present in most of the cells in the embryo. The fourth line, GT-2, showed widespread, dynamic expression. Many of the sites of expression were important classic embryonic induction systems. Cloning of the sequences fused to the $5\sp\prime$ end of the $\beta$geo sequence revealed that the trapped gene contained significant sequence homology with a previously identified human sequence HumORF5. An open reading frame of this sequence is homologous to a group of eukaryotic proteins that are members of the RNA helicase superfamily I. Analysis of the gene trap lines suggests that potentially novel developmental mechanisms have been uncovered. In the case of RNA 1, 2 and 3, the differential production of ribosomal RNAs may be required for differentiation or function of the $\beta$geo positive hematopoietic cells. In the GT-2 line, a previously unsuspected temporal and spatial regulation of a putative RNA helicase implies a role for this activity during specific aspects of mouse development.

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Wagner, Daniel Scudder, "Accessing novel developmental mechanisms in the mouse by gene trapping" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9807057.