Similar regulatory logic in Ciona intestinalis for two Wnt pathway modulators, ROR and SFRP-1/5

Maximilian Haussler, Hélène Auger, Clément Lamy, Maximilian Haeussler, Pierre Khoueiry, Patrick Lemaire, J. S. Joly

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    Anteroposterior patterning of the ectoderm in the invertebrate chordate Ciona intestinalis first relies on key zygotic activators, such as FoxA, and later on the coordinated responses to inducing signals from the underlying mesendoderm. Here, we focus on a mechanism of coordination of these responses by looking at the cis-regulatory logics of Ci-Rora and Ci-Rorb, which are coding for putative non-canonical transmembrane Wnt receptors, and are present in tandem along the C. intestinalis chromosome 08q. We showed that during cleavage stages, both Ci-Rora and Ci-Rorb genes are initially expressed in all blastomeres of the anterior ectoderm (a-line), as sFRP1/5 (Lamy, C., Rothbächer, U., Caillol, D., Lemaire, P., 2006. Ci-FoxA-a is the earliest zygotic determinant of the ascidian anterior ectoderm and directly activates Ci-sFRP1/5. Development 133, 2835-2844.). We then carried out a functional analysis of cis-regulatory regions and showed that both genes have elements enriched in Ci-FoxA-a binding sites. We dissected one of these early enhancers, and showed that it is directly activated by Ci-FoxA-a, as one sFRP1/5 cis-regulatory element. We also showed that although FoxA binding sites are abundant in genomes, dense clusters of these sites are found upstream from very few genes, and have a high predictive value of a-line expression. These data indicate an important role for FoxA in anterior specification, via the transcriptional regulation of target genes belonging to various signalling pathways. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)364-373
    Number of pages9
    JournalDevelopmental Biology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2009


    • Anterior ectoderm
    • Cis-regulation
    • FoxA target
    • Tunicate
    • Wnt pathway


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