Myc proteins control cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis, and play important roles in cancer as well in establishment of pluripotency. Here we investigated the control of myc gene expression by the Pou5f1/Oct4 pluripotency factor in the early zebrafish embryo. We analyzed the expression of all known zebrafish Myc family members, myca, mycb, mych, mycl1a, mycl1b, and mycn, by whole mount in situ hybridization during blastula and gastrula stages in wildtype and maternal plus zygotic pou5f1 mutant (MZspg) embryos, as well as by quantitative PCR and in time series microarray data. We found that the broad blastula and gastrula stage mych expression, as well as late gastrula stage mycl1b expression, both depend on Pou5f1 activity. We analyzed ChIP-Seq data and found that both Pou5f1 and Sox2 bind to mych and mycl1b control regions. The regulation of mych by Pou5f1 appears to be direct transcriptional activation, as overexpression of a Pou5f1 activator fusion protein in MZspg embryos induced strong mych expression even when translation of zygotically expressed mRNAs was suppressed. We further showed that MZspg embryos develop enhanced apoptosis already during early gastrula stages, when apoptosis was not be detected in wildtype embryos. However, Mych knockdown alone did not induce early apoptosis, suggesting potentially redundant action of several early expressed myc genes, or combination of several pathways affected in MZspg. Experimental mych overexpression in MZspg embryos did significantly, but not completely suppress the apoptosis phenotype. Similarly, p53 knockdown only partially suppressed apoptosis in MZspg gastrula embryos. However, combined knockdown of p53 and overexpression of Mych completely rescued the MZspg apoptosis phenotype. These results reveal that Mych has anti-apoptotic activity in the early zebrafish embryo, and that p53-dependent and Myc pathways are likely to act in parallel to control apoptosis at these stages.
Pou5f1/Oct-4 in mice is required for maintenance of embryonic pluripotent cell populations. Zebrafish pou5f1 maternal-zygotic mutant embryos (spiel ohne grenzen; MZspg) lack endoderm and have gastrulation and dorsoventral patterning defects. A contribution of Pou5f1 to the control of bmp2b, bmp4 and vox expression has been suggested, however the mechanisms remained unclear and are investigated in detail here. Low-level overexpression of a Pou5f1-VP16 activator fusion protein can rescue dorsalization in MZspg mutants, indicating that Pou5f1 acts as a transcriptional activator during dorsoventral patterning. Overexpression of larger quantities of Pou5f1-VP16 can ventralize wild-type embryos, while overexpression of a Pou5f1-En repressor fusion protein can dorsalize embryos. Lack of Pou5f1 causes a transient upregulation of fgf8a expression after mid-blastula transition, providing a mechanism for delayed activation of bmp2b in MZspg embryos. Overexpression of the Pou5f1-En repressor induces fgf8, suggesting an indirect mechanism of Pou5f1 control of fgf8a expression. Transcription of vox is strongly activated by Pou5f1-VP16 even when translation of zygotically expressed transcripts is experimentally inhibited by cycloheximide. In contrast, bmp2b and bmp4 are not activated under these conditions. We show that Pou5f1 binds to phylogenetically conserved Oct/Pou5f1 sites in the vox promoter, both in vivo (ChIP) and in vitro. Our data reveals a set of direct and indirect interactions of Pou5f1 with the BMP dorsoventral patterning network that serve to fine-tune dorsoventral patterning mechanisms and coordinate patterning with developmental timing.
Angiogenesis is regulated by the small GTPase Rac1. The ELMO1/DOCK180 complex forms a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rac1, regulating its activation during cell migration in different biological systems. Objective: To investigate the function of ELMO1/DOCK180 in vascular development.
The transcription factor POU5f1/OCT4 controls pluripotency in mammalian ES cells, but little is known about its functions in the early embryo. We used time-resolved transcriptome analysis of zebrafish pou5f1 MZspg mutant embryos to identify genes regulated by Pou5f1. Comparison to mammalian systems defines evolutionary conserved Pou5f1 targets. Time-series data reveal many Pou5f1 targets with delayed or advanced onset of expression. We identify two Pou5f1-dependent mechanisms controlling developmental timing. First, several Pou5f1 targets are transcriptional repressors, mediating repression of differentiation genes in distinct embryonic compartments. We analyze her3 gene regulation as example for a repressor in the neural anlagen. Second, the dynamics of SoxB1 group gene expression and Pou5f1-dependent regulation of her3 and foxD3 uncovers differential requirements for SoxB1 activity to control temporal dynamics of activation, and spatial distribution of targets in the embryo. We establish a mathematical model of the early Pou5f1 and SoxB1 gene network to demonstrate regulatory characteristics important for developmental timing. The temporospatial structure of the zebrafish Pou5f1 target networks may explain aspects of the evolution of the mammalian stem cell networks.
Differentiation of insulin producing beta-cells is a genetically well defined process that involves functions of various conserved transcription factors. Still, the transcriptional mechanisms underlying specification and determination of beta-cell fate are poorly defined. Here we provide the description of a beta-cell progenitor specific enhancer as a model to study initial steps of beta-cell differentiation. We show that evolutionary non-conserved upstream sequences of the zebrafish hb9 gene are required and sufficient for regulating expression in beta-cells prior to the onset of insulin expression. This enhancer contains binding sites for paired-box transcription factors and two E-boxes that in EMSA studies show interaction with Pax6b and NeuroD, respectively. We show that Pax6b is a potent activator of endodermal hb9 expression and that this activation depends on the beta-cell enhancer. Using genetic approaches we show that pax6b is crucial for maintenance but not induction of pancreatic hb9 transcription. As loss of Pax6b or Hb9 independently results in the loss of insulin expression, the data reveal a novel cross-talk between the two essential regulators of early beta-cell differentiation. While we find that the known pancreatic E-box binding proteins NeuroD and Ngn3 are not required for hb9 expression we also show that removal of both E-boxes selectively eliminates pancreatic specific reporter expression. The data provide evidence for an Ngn3 independent pathway of beta-cell specification that requires function of currently not specified E-box binding factors.
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