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Dev Cell. 2004 Jun;6(6):757-70.

Genomic cis-regulatory architecture and trans-acting regulators of a single interneuron-specific gene battery in C. elegans.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University Medical Center, 701 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Gene batteries are sets of coregulated genes with common cis-regulatory elements that define the differentiated state of a cell. The nature of gene batteries for individual neuronal cellular subtypes and their linked cis-regulatory elements is poorly defined. Through molecular dissection of the highly modular cis-regulatory architecture of individual neuronally expressed genes, we have defined a conserved 16 bp cis-regulatory motif that drives gene expression in a single interneuron subtype, termed AIY, in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This motif is bound and activated by the Paired- and LIM-type homeodomain proteins CEH-10 and TTX-3. Using genome-wide phylogenetic footprinting, we delineated the location, distribution, and evolution of AIY-specific cis-regulatory elements throughout the genome and thereby defined a large battery of AIY-expressed genes, all of which represent direct Paired/LIM homeodomain target genes. The identity of these homeodomain targets provides novel insights into the biology of the AIY interneuron.

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