[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vertebrate embryos, retinoic acid (RA) synthesized in the mesoderm by Raldh2 emanates to the hindbrain neuroepithelium, where it induces anteroposterior (AP)-restricted Hox expression patterns and rhombomere segmentation. However, how appropriate spatiotemporal RA activity is generated in the hindbrain is poorly understood. By analyzing Pbx1/Pbx2 and Hoxa1/Pbx1 null mice, we found that Raldh2 is itself under the transcriptional control of these factors and that the resulting RA-deficient phenotypes can be partially rescued by exogenous RA. Hoxa1-Pbx1/2-Meis2 directly binds a specific regulatory element that is required to maintain normal Raldh2 expression levels in vivo. Mesoderm-specific Xhoxa1 and Xpbx1b knockdowns in Xenopus embryos also result in Xraldh2 downregulation and hindbrain defects similar to mouse mutants, demonstrating conservation of this Hox-Pbx-dependent regulatory pathway. These findings reveal a feed-forward mechanism linking Hox-Pbx-dependent RA synthesis during early axial patterning with the establishment of spatially restricted Hox-Pbx activity in the developing hindbrain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Hoxa2 gene has a fundamental role in vertebrate craniofacial and hindbrain patterning. Segmental control of Hoxa2 expression is crucial to its function and several studies have highlighted transcriptional regulatory elements governing its activity in distinct rhombomeres. Here, we identify a putative Hox-Pbx responsive cis-regulatory sequence, which resides in the coding sequence of Hoxa2 and is an important component of Hoxa2 regulation in rhombomere (r) 4. By using cell transfection and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that this regulatory sequence is responsive to paralogue group 1 and 2 Hox proteins and to their Pbx co-factors. Importantly, we also show that the Hox-Pbx element cooperates with a previously reported Hoxa2 r4 intronic enhancer and that its integrity is required to drive specific reporter gene expression in r4 upon electroporation in the chick embryo hindbrain. Thus, both intronic as well as exonic regulatory sequences are involved in Hoxa2 segmental regulation in the developing r4. Finally, we found that the Hox-Pbx exonic element is embedded in a larger 205-bp long ultraconserved genomic element (UCE) shared by all vertebrate genomes. In this respect, our data further support the idea that extreme conservation of UCE sequences may be the result of multiple superposed functional and evolutionary constraints.
Nucleic Acids Research 07/2008; 36(10):3214-25. DOI:10.1093/nar/gkn148 · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The embryonic functions of Hox proteins have been extensively investigated in several animal phyla. These transcription factors act as selectors of developmental programmes, to govern the morphogenesis of multiple structures and organs. However, despite the variety of morphogenetic processes Hox proteins are involved in, only a limited set of their target genes has been identified so far. To find additional targets, we used a strategy based upon the simultaneous overexpression of Hoxa2 and its cofactors Pbx1 and Prep in a cellular model. Among genes whose expression was upregulated, we identified LMO1, which codes for an intertwining LIM-only factor involved in protein-DNA oligomeric complexes. By analysing its expression in Hox knockout mice, we show that Lmo1 is differentially regulated by Hoxa2 and Hoxb2, in specific columns of hindbrain neuronal progenitors. These results suggest that Lmo1 takes part in a Hox paralogue 2-dependent network regulating anteroposterior and dorsoventral hindbrain patterning.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhombomeres are embryonic territories arising from the transient segmentation of the hindbrain. Their identity is specified by Hox genes from paralogous groups 1-4. Hoxa2 is the only Hox gene to be expressed in the second rhombomere and the regulatory cues leading to this region-specific expression have been poorly investigated. A 2.5-kb DNA fragment overlapping with the 3' end of Hoxa2 was previously shown to specifically direct the expression of a reporter gene in the second rhombomere and the rostral somites of mouse embryos. Here, we report that this enhancer region is activated in vitro by Hoxa2 and that this activation is strictly dependent on a short 10-bp sequence matching the consensus for Hox-Pbx recognition sites.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 05/2004; 316(3):898-902. DOI:10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.02.138 · 2.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The second and third amino acid residues of the N-terminal arm of most Hox protein homeodomains are basic (lysine or arginine), whereas they are asparagine and alanine, respectively, in the Hoxa1 homeodomain. Previous reports pinpointed these residues as specificity determinants in the function of Hoxa1 when it is acting as a monomer. However, in vitro data supported that these residues do not influence the target specificity of Hoxa1 in Pbx1a-Hoxa1 heterodimers. Here, we have analysed the transcriptional activity of a Hoxa1(NA-KR) mutant for which the asparagine and alanine residues of the homeodomain have been replaced by lysine and arginine, respectively. Comparison between the wild-type and mutant Hoxa1 reveals that they show distinct activity on the TSEII enhancer of the somatostatin gene, but that they are equally active in the presence of Pbx and Prep cofactors. This therefore corroborates the biochemical evidence having shown that the second and third residues of the homeodomain do not contribute to the DNA binding of Hoxa1-Pbx dimers. However, on the hoxb1 autoregulatory enhancer, Hoxa1 and Hoxa1(NA-KR) may display distinct activity despite the presence of Pbx, in a cell-type dependent manner. Therefore, our data suggest that, depending on the enhancer, these residues may contribute to the functional specificity of Hoxa1 and that this contribution may not be abrogated by the interaction with Pbx.
Nucleic Acids Research 07/2002; 30(12):2663-8. · 9.11 Impact Factor