A perturbation model of the gene regulatory network for oral and aboral ectoderm specification in the sea urchin embryo

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Abstract

The current gene regulatory network (GRN) for the sea urchin embryo pertains to pregastrular specification functions in the endomesodermal territories. Here we extend gene regulatory network analysis to the adjacent oral and aboral ectoderm territories over the same period. A large fraction of the regulatory genes predicted by the sea urchin genome project and shown in ancillary studies to be expressed in either oral or aboral ectoderm by 24 h are included, though universally expressed and pan-ectodermal regulatory genes are in general not. The loci of expression of these genes have been determined by whole mount in situ hybridization. We have carried out a global perturbation analysis in which expression of each gene was interrupted by introduction of morpholino antisense oligonucleotide, and the effects on all other genes were measured quantitatively, both by QPCR and by a new instrumental technology (NanoString Technologies nCounter Analysis System). At its current stage the network model, built in BioTapestry, includes 22 genes encoding transcription factors, 4 genes encoding known signaling ligands, and 3 genes that are yet unknown but are predicted to perform specific roles. Evidence emerged from the analysis pointing to distinctive subcircuit features observed earlier in other parts of the GRN, including a double negative transcriptional regulatory gate, and dynamic state lockdowns by feedback interactions. While much of the regulatory apparatus is downstream of Nodal signaling, as expected from previous observations, there are also cohorts of independently activated oral and aboral ectoderm regulatory genes, and we predict yet unidentified signaling interactions between oral and aboral territories. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Su, Y. H., Li, E., Geiss, G. K., Longabaugh, W. J. R., Krämer, A., & Davidson, E. H. (2009). A perturbation model of the gene regulatory network for oral and aboral ectoderm specification in the sea urchin embryo. Developmental Biology, 329(2), 410–421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.02.029

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