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A Trans-Regulatory Code For The Forebrain Expression Of Six3.2 In The Medaka Fish*

Leonardo Beccari, Raquel Marco-Ferreres, N. Tabanera, A. Manfredi, Marcel Souren, Beate Wittbrodt, I. Conte, J. Wittbrodt, P. Bovolenta
Published 2015 · Biology, Medicine

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Background: The transcription factor Six3 is key element of forebrain specification, but its upstream regulators are unknown. Results: A systematic search in medaka fish identifies and functionally characterizes novel Six3 regulators. Conclusion: The spatio-temporal regulation of Six3 depends on a few trans-acting factors. Significance: This study provides new information on how forebrain neuronal diversity is originated. A well integrated and hierarchically organized gene regulatory network is responsible for the progressive specification of the forebrain. The transcription factor Six3 is one of the central components of this network. As such, Six3 regulates several components of the network, but its upstream regulators are still poorly characterized. Here we have systematically identified such regulators, taking advantage of the detailed functional characterization of the regulatory region of the medaka fish Six3.2 ortholog and of a time/cost-effective trans-regulatory screening, which complemented and overcame the limitations of in silico prediction approaches. The candidates resulting from this search were validated with dose-response luciferase assays and expression pattern criteria. Reconfirmed candidates with a matching expression pattern were also tested with chromatin immunoprecipitation and functional studies. Our results confirm the previously proposed direct regulation of Pax6 and further demonstrate that Msx2 and Pbx1 are bona fide direct regulators of early Six3.2 distribution in distinct domains of the medaka fish forebrain. They also point to other transcription factors, including Tcf3, as additional regulators of different spatial-temporal domains of Six3.2 expression. The activity of these regulators is discussed in the context of the gene regulatory network proposed for the specification of the forebrain.
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