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Dev Biol. 2006 Sep 15;297(2):587-602. Epub 2006 Jun 2.

cis-regulatory processing of Notch signaling input to the sea urchin glial cells missing gene during mesoderm specification.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


The glial cells missing regulatory gene of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (spgcm) was proposed earlier to be the genomic target of Delta/Notch (D/N) signaling required for specification of the mesodermal precursors of pigment cells. Here, we show that microinjection of a spgcm antisense morpholino oligonucleotide results in larvae without pigment cells. Microinjection of an mRNA encoding a dominant negative form of Suppressor of Hairless (dn-Su(H)) results in reduced levels of spgcm mRNA, disruption of mesodermal founder cell specification and failure to produce pigment cells. These results confirm that this gene is required for pigment cell specification. Three cis-regulatory modules of the spgcm gene were identified, which when incorporated in a GFP expression construct recapitulate the early expression pattern of this gene. Spatial expression of this GFP expression construct is severely disrupted by co-expression of dn-Su(H) mRNA, confirming that spgcm is a direct target of canonical N signaling mediated through Su(H) inputs. cis-perturbation analysis by mutation of consensus Su(H) sites identified a conserved motif paired-site and a lone site in the middle module that function both to drive expression in SMC precursors which receive the Delta signal and to repress expression in ectopic locations which lack this signal. While these Su(H) target sites provide the cis-regulatory architecture with the core of an N signaling transcriptional response switch, both the on and off outputs from this module require additional inputs.

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