Repression of mesodermal fate by foxa, a key endoderm regulator of the sea urchin embryo.
The foxa gene is an integral component of the endoderm specification subcircuit of the endomesoderm gene regulatory network in the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus embryo. Its transcripts become confined to veg2, then veg1 endodermal territories, and, following gastrulation, throughout the gut. It is also expressed in the stomodeal ectoderm. gatae and otx genes provide input into the pregastrular regulatory system of foxa, and Foxa represses its own transcription, resulting in an oscillatory temporal expression profile. Here, we report three separate essential functions of the foxa gene: it represses mesodermal fate in the veg2 endomesoderm; it is required in postgastrular development for the expression of gut-specific genes; and it is necessary for stomodaeum formation. If its expression is reduced by a morpholino, more endomesoderm cells become pigment and other mesenchymal cell types, less gut is specified, and the larva has no mouth. Experiments in which blastomere transplantation is combined with foxa MASO treatment demonstrate that, in the normal endoderm, a crucial role of Foxa is to repress gcm expression in response to a Notch signal, and hence to repress mesodermal fate. Chimeric recombination experiments in which veg2, veg1 or ectoderm cells contained foxa MASO show which region of foxa expression controls each of the three functions. These experiments show that the foxa gene is a component of three distinct embryonic gene regulatory networks.
Oliveri, P; Walton, KD; Davidson, EH; McClay, DR
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