Brian Cooper

MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (3)13.56 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms by which transcription factors, which are not themselves tissue restricted, establish cardiomyocyte-specific patterns of transcription in vivo are unknown. Nor do we understand how positional cues are integrated to provide regionally distinct domains of gene expression within the developing heart. We describe regulation of the Xenopus XMLC2 gene, which encodes a regulatory myosin light chain of the contractile apparatus in cardiac muscle. This gene is expressed from the onset of cardiac differentiation in the frog embryo and is expressed throughout all the myocardium, both before and after heart chamber formation. Using transgenesis in frog embryos, we have identified an 82 bp enhancer within the proximal promoter region of the gene that is necessary and sufficient for heart-specific expression of an XMLC2 transgene. This enhancer is composed of two GATA sites and a composite YY1/CArG-like site. We show that the low-affinity SRF site is essential for transgene expression and that cardiac-specific expression also requires the presence of at least one adjacent GATA site. The overlapping YY1 site within the enhancer appears to act primarily as a repressor of ectopic expression, although it may also have a positive role. Finally, we show that the frog MLC2 promoter drives pan myocardial expression of a transgene in mice, despite the more restricted patterns of expression of murine MLC2 genes. We speculate that a common regulatory mechanism may be responsible for pan-myocardial expression of XMLC2 in both the frog and mouse, modulation of which could have given rise to more restricted patterns of expression within the heart of higher vertebrates.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2004 · Development
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    ABSTRACT: During vertebrate embryonic development, cardiac and skeletal muscle originates from distinct precursor populations. Despite the profound structural and functional differences in the striated muscle tissue they eventually form, such progenitors share many features such as components of contractile apparatus. In vertebrate embryos, the alpha-cardiac actin gene encodes a major component of the myofibril in both skeletal and cardiac muscle. Here, we show that expression of Xenopus cardiac alpha-actin in the myotomes and developing heart tube of the tadpole requires distinct enhancers within its proximal promoter. Using transgenic embryos, we find that mutations in the promoter-proximal CArG box and 5 bp downstream of it specifically eliminate expression of a GFP transgene within the developing heart, while high levels of expression in somitic muscle are maintained. This sequence is insufficient on its own to limit expression solely to the myocardium, such restriction requiring multiple elements within the proximal promoter. Two additional enhancers are active in skeletal muscle of the embryo, either one of which has to interact with the proximal CArG box for correct expression to be established. Transgenic reporters containing multimerised copies of CArG box 1 faithfully detect most sites of SRF expression in the developing embryo as do equivalent reporters containing the SRF binding site from the c-fos promoter. Significantly, while these motifs possess a different A/T core within the CC(A/T)(6)GG consensus and show no similarity in flanking sequence, each can interact with a myotome-specific distal enhancer of cardiac alpha-actin promoter, to confer appropriate cardiac alpha-actin-specific regulation of transgene expression. Together, these results suggest that the role of CArG box 1 in the cardiac alpha-actin gene promoter is to act solely as a high-affinity SRF binding site.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2002 · Developmental Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Vertebrate homologues of the Drosophila tinman transcription factor have been implicated in the processes of specification and differentiation of cardiac mesoderm. In Xenopus three members of this family have been isolated to date. Here we show that the XNkx2-3, Xnkx2-5, and XNkx2-10 genes are expressed in increasingly distinctive patterns in endodermal and mesodermal germ layers through early development, suggesting that their protein products (either individually or in different combinations) perform distinct functions. Using amphibian transgenesis, we find that the expression pattern of one of these genes, XNkx2-5, can be reproduced using transgenes containing only 4.3 kb of promoter sequence. Sequence analysis reveals remarkable conservation between the distalmost 300 bp of the Xenopus promoter and a portion of the AR2 element upstream of the mouse and human Nkx2-5 genes. Interestingly, only the 3' half of this evolutionarily conserved sequence element is required for correct transgene expression in frog embryos. Mutation of conserved GATA sites or a motif resembling the dpp-response element in the Drosophila tinman tinD enhancer dramatically reduces the levels of transgene expression. Finally we show that, despite its activity in Xenopus embryos, in transgenic mice the Xenopus Nkx2-5 promoter is able to drive reporter gene expression only in a limited subset of cells expressing the endogenous gene. This intriguing result suggests that despite evolutionary conservation of some cis-regulatory sequences, the regulatory controls on Nkx2-5 expression have diverged between mammals and amphibians.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2000 · Developmental Biology