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Mech Dev. 1999 Mar;81(1-2):139-49.

Transcriptional regulation of Xvent homeobox genes.

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Abteilung Biochemie, Universität Ulm, Albert Einstein Allee 11, 89081, Ulm, Germany.


The Xvent homeobox multigene family is essential for the patterning of the ventral mesoderm in Xenopus embryos. We have identified two novel members of this family, Xvent-1B and Xvent-2B, and have characterized their genomic structures. These two genes show a clustered organization and have probably arisen by gene duplication with subsequent inversion. Cis-regulatory elements within the promoters of both genes have been identified which contribute to their spatial activation. Xvent-2B is activated by BMP-2/4 in the absence of de novo protein synthesis, suggesting that this gene is a direct target of BMP-signalling. In contrast, Xvent-1B does not directly respond to BMP-2/4, but is activated by Xvent-2B. This activation is documented by Xvent-1B promoter/reporter studies, Xvent-2B overexpression and loss-of-function analysis using a dominant-negative Xvent-2 mutant. However, cycloheximide experiments reveal that Xvent-2B by itself is not sufficient to activate transcription of the Xvent-1B gene, but that there is a requirement for additional factor(s) being synthesized after midblastula transition.

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