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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024469. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Zebrafish foxo3b negatively regulates canonical Wnt signaling to affect early embryogenesis.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Aquatic Biodiversity and Conservation, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, People's Republic of China.


FOXO genes are involved in many aspects of development and vascular homeostasis by regulating cell apoptosis, proliferation, and the control of oxidative stress. In addition, FOXO genes have been showed to inhibit Wnt/β-catenin signaling by competing with T cell factor to bind to β-catenin. However, how important of this inhibition in vivo, particularly in embryogenesis is still unknown. To demonstrate the roles of FOXO genes in embryogenesis will help us to further understand their relevant physiological functions. Zebrafish foxo3b gene, an orthologue of mammalian FOXO3, was expressed maternally and distributed ubiquitously during early embryogenesis and later restricted to brain. After morpholino-mediated knockdown of foxo3b, the zebrafish embryos exhibited defects in axis and neuroectoderm formation, suggesting its critical role in early embryogenesis. The embryo-developmental marker gene staining at different stages, phenotype analysis and rescue assays revealed that foxo3b acted its role through negatively regulating both maternal and zygotic Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Moreover, we found that foxo3b could interact with zebrafish β-catenin1 and β-catenin2 to suppress their transactivation in vitro and in vivo, further confirming its role relevant to the inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Taken together, we revealed that foxo3b played a very important role in embryogenesis and negatively regulated maternal and zygotic Wnt/β-catenin signaling by directly interacting with both β-catenin1 and β-catenin2. Our studies provide an in vivo model for illustrating function of FOXO transcription factors in embryogenesis.

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