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BBB Seminar: Hee-Chan Seo

Transcription factors in zebrafish development – contributions from duplicated genes

Hee-Chan Seo
Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen


Transcription and translation are two essential processes in which the information stored in DNA is transferred to RNA and then to protein. Transcription factors initiate and control the transcription process through sequence-specific DNA binding. General transcription factors initiate transcription and many are part of the large transcription pre-initiation complex, which interacts with RNA polymerase directly. ‘Specific’ or ‘regulatory’ transcription factors regulate the expression of various genes by binding to DNA regions adjacent to the genes, thus ensuring correct spatiotemporal expression.

We are interested in a group of homeodomain-containing transcription factors, called Six, which control key steps in early animal development. Six proteins also regulate the cell cycle and determine if cells will proliferate or differentiate. Improper regulation or absence of these proteins in humans leads to inborn abnormalities (e.g., holoprosencephaly) and cancers (e.g., breast cancer). Investigations of Six proteins, like other regulatory transcription factor studies, thus far have mostly been limited to developmental approaches such as gene expression and phenotypic analyses. For a more mechanistic and quantitative analysis, we intend to take a biochemical approach in which structural information of these transcription factors is determined and utilised.

In the second part of the talk, matters concerning the role of duplicated, paralogous genes in zebrafish development will be discussed. As the zebrafish genome contains duplicated (developmental) genes, understanding the interplay of these duplicates is important. Recent findings with Six genes show that they are expressed in a non-overlapping manner but may compensate each other.


Host: Beate Stern (beate.stern@biomed.uib.no), Department of Biomedicine

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