The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Thomas Becker

Gene regulation in megabase domains around developmental control genes

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Thomas Becker
Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, Bergen

Vertebrate genes encoding developmental transcription factors and other control genes are frequently located in genomic regulatory blocks, chromosomal segments of several hundred kilobases to megabases exhibiting conserved synteny from human to teleost genomes. These segments are typically spanned by multiple highly conserved noncoding elements (HCNEs) whose densities often peak near the genes they regulate. We have demonstrated that HCNEs, conserved in both human and zebrafish, act as specific developmental enhancers in transgenic zebrafish, even if the tested elements normally reside hundreds of kilobases away and near or inside neighboring genes. The embryonic expression of the genes neighboring the control genes is usually at a much lower level and less spatially restricted than the transcription factor genes, suggesting that they are not specifically co-regulated by the elements that reside in or near them. These findings show that regulation of developmental control genes often depends on enhancers inside unrelated genes and that groups of genes are held together in evolution by long-range regulatory elements.

Host: Donald Gullberg <donald.gullberg@biomed.uib.no>, Department of Biomedicine