An SNP in an ultraconserved regulatory element affects Dlx5/Dlx6 regulation in the forebrain.
ABSTRACT Dlx homeobox genes play a crucial role in the migration and differentiation of the subpallial precursor cells that give rise to various subtypes of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-expressing neurons of the forebrain, including local-circuit cortical interneurons. Aberrant development of GABAergic interneurons has been linked to several neurodevelopmental disorders, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, Rett syndrome and autism. Here, we report in mice that a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) found in an autistic proband falls within a functional protein binding site in an ultraconserved cis-regulatory element. This element, I56i, is involved in regulating Dlx5/Dlx6 homeobox gene expression in the developing forebrain. We show that the SNP results in reduced I56i activity, predominantly in the medial and caudal ganglionic eminences and in streams of neurons tangentially migrating to the cortex. Reduced activity is also observed in GABAergic interneurons of the adult somatosensory cortex. The SNP affects the affinity of Dlx proteins for their binding site in vitro and reduces the transcriptional activation of the enhancer by Dlx proteins. Affinity purification using I56i sequences led to the identification of a novel regulator of Dlx gene expression, general transcription factor 2 I (Gtf2i), which is among the genes most often deleted in Williams-Beuren syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder. This study illustrates the clear functional consequences of a single nucleotide variation in an ultraconserved non-coding sequence in the context of developmental abnormalities associated with disease.
Article: Identification of a direct Dlx homeodomain target in the developing mouse forebrain and retina by optimization of chromatin immunoprecipitation.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Understanding homeobox gene specificity and function has been hampered by the lack of proven direct transcriptional targets during development. Dlx genes are expressed in the developing forebrain, retina, craniofacial structures and limbs. Dlx1/Dlx2 double knockout mice die at birth with multiple defects including abnormal forebrain development and decreased Dlx5 and Dlx6 expression. We have successfully applied chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) to identify a direct transcriptional target of DLX homeoproteins from embryonic tissues in vivo. We optimized cross-linking conditions to enrich for protein-DNA complexes, then using specific high affinity DLX antibodies captured immunoenriched DLX genomic DNA transcriptional targets. DLX homeobox proteins bind differentially to the Dlx5/Dlx6 intergenic enhancer in newborn retina (DLX2) and embryonic striatum (DLX1, DLX2) in situ. Reporter gene assays demonstrated the functional significance of the binding of DLX proteins to this regulatory element, confirmed in vitro by electrophoretic mobility shift assays, using tissue extracts or recombinant DLX proteins. ChIP provides the best approach to identify direct Dlx homeoprotein targets from developing tissues in situ. The use of this technology will advance our understanding of Dlx gene function in the vertebrate in vivo and can be applied to examine targets of other homeobox genes and other classes of transcription factors.Nucleic Acids Research 02/2004; 32(3):884-92. · 8.03 Impact Factor