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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e47366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047366. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

Elongation factor 1 alpha1 and genes associated with Usher syndromes are downstream targets of GBX2.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, United States of America.


Gbx2 encodes a DNA-binding transcription factor that plays pivotal roles during embryogenesis. Gain-and loss-of-function studies in several vertebrate species have demonstrated a requirement for Gbx2 in development of the anterior hindbrain, spinal cord, inner ear, heart, and neural crest cells. However, the target genes through which GBX2 exerts its effects remain obscure. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with direct sequencing (ChIP-Seq) analysis in a human prostate cancer cell line, we identified cis-regulatory elements bound by GBX2 to provide insight into its direct downstream targets. The analysis revealed more than 286 highly significant candidate target genes, falling into various functional groups, of which 51% are expressed in the nervous system. Several of the top candidate genes include EEF1A1, ROBO1, PLXNA4, SLIT3, NRP1, and NOTCH2, as well as genes associated with the Usher syndrome, PCDH15 and USH2A, and are plausible candidates contributing to the developmental defects in Gbx2(-/-) mice. We show through gel shift analyses that sequences within the promoter or introns of EEF1A1, ROBO1, PCDH15, USH2A and NOTCH2, are directly bound by GBX2. Consistent with these in vitro results, analyses of Gbx2(-/-) embryos indicate that Gbx2 function is required for migration of Robo1-expressing neural crest cells out of the hindbrain. Furthermore, we show that GBX2 activates transcriptional activity through the promoter of EEF1A1, suggesting that GBX2 could also regulate gene expression indirectly via EEF1A. Taken together, our studies show that GBX2 plays a dynamic role in development and diseases.

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