Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 537 - 543 (2017)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.170194oo
© UPV/EHU Press

An empirical model of Onecut binding activity at the sea urchin SM50 C-element gene regulatory region

Ochan Otim*

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

ABSTRACT Studying the formation of endoskeleton in many species is complex and difficult. The sea urchin embryo offers an unparalleled platform for understanding this process because of the ease with which its skeletogenic mesenchyme cells can be manipulated. In this study, preliminary evidence from biochemical studies towards understanding the role of the Onecut transcription factor during sea urchin skeletogenic mesenchyme cell specification is presented. Based on the evidence, an empirical model is proposed showing how Onecut, together with associated co-factors, may be using the C-element of the SM50 gene regulatory region in advance of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus spicule development. In the model, Onecut recognizes and binds the DNA sequence CATCGATCTC in the C-element without temporal restriction. Onecut then utilizes different sets of co-factors to switch from its unknown function early in development (four cell stage to the mesenchyme blastula stage), to its known role in the oral-aboral boundary thereafter. At the writing of this report, definitive evidence as to whether the “early” factors are expressed in all cells except the micromere lineages, or whether the “late” factors are expressed in micromere descendants or ectodermal precursors only are lacking. The former would suggest a possible Onecut repression function for the early co-factors outside the micromere lineages; the latter scenario would suggest a Onecut activation function for the late co-factors in the presumptive ciliary band.

Keywords:

C-element, HNF6, Onecut, sea urchin, SM50

*Corresponding author e-mail: ochan.otim@lacity.org