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Dev Biol. 2006 Jun 15;294(2):482-96. Epub 2006 Apr 24.

HNF factors form a network to regulate liver-enriched genes in zebrafish.

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  • 1Functional Genomics Lab, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, 61 Biopolis Drive, Protesos, 138673, Singapore.


Defects in some of liver-enriched genes in mammals will cause liver- and/or blood-related diseases. However, due to the fact that embryogenesis happens intrauterinally in the mammals, the function of these liver-enriched genes during liver organogenesis is poorly studied. We report here the identification of 129 genuine liver-enriched genes in adult zebrafish and show that, through in situ hybridization, 69 of these genes are also enriched in the embryonic liver. External embryogenesis coupled with the well-established morpholino-mediated gene knock-down technique in zebrafish offers us a unique opportunity to study if this group of genes plays any role during liver organogenesis in the future. As an example, preliminary study using morpholino-mediated gene knock-down method revealed that a novel liver-enriched gene leg1 is crucial for the liver expansion growth. We also report the analysis of promoter regions of 51 liver-enriched genes by searching putative binding sites for Hnf1, Hnf3, Hnf4 and Hnf6, four key transcription factors enriched in the liver. We found that promoter regions of majority of liver-enriched genes contain putative binding sites for more than one HNF factors, suggesting that most of liver-enriched genes are likely co-regulated by different combination of HNF factors. This observation supports the hypothesis that these four liver-enriched transcription factors form a network in controlling the expression of liver-specific or -enriched genes in the liver.

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