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See detailCharacterization and regulation of the hb9/mnx1 beta-cell progenitor specific enhancer in zebrafish.
Arkhipova, Valeriya; Wendik, Bjorn; Devos, Nathalie et al

in Developmental Biology (2012), 365(1), 290-302

Differentiation of insulin producing beta-cells is a genetically well defined process that involves functions of various conserved transcription factors. Still, the transcriptional mechanisms underlying ... [more ▼]

Differentiation of insulin producing beta-cells is a genetically well defined process that involves functions of various conserved transcription factors. Still, the transcriptional mechanisms underlying specification and determination of beta-cell fate are poorly defined. Here we provide the description of a beta-cell progenitor specific enhancer as a model to study initial steps of beta-cell differentiation. We show that evolutionary non-conserved upstream sequences of the zebrafish hb9 gene are required and sufficient for regulating expression in beta-cells prior to the onset of insulin expression. This enhancer contains binding sites for paired-box transcription factors and two E-boxes that in EMSA studies show interaction with Pax6b and NeuroD, respectively. We show that Pax6b is a potent activator of endodermal hb9 expression and that this activation depends on the beta-cell enhancer. Using genetic approaches we show that pax6b is crucial for maintenance but not induction of pancreatic hb9 transcription. As loss of Pax6b or Hb9 independently results in the loss of insulin expression, the data reveal a novel cross-talk between the two essential regulators of early beta-cell differentiation. While we find that the known pancreatic E-box binding proteins NeuroD and Ngn3 are not required for hb9 expression we also show that removal of both E-boxes selectively eliminates pancreatic specific reporter expression. The data provide evidence for an Ngn3 independent pathway of beta-cell specification that requires function of currently not specified E-box binding factors. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Pax6b homeodomain is dispensable for pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation in zebrafish.
Verbruggen, Vincianne; Ek, Olivier; Georlette, Daphne et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2010), 285(18), 13863-73

Pax6 is a well conserved transcription factor that contains two DNA-binding domains, a paired domain and a homeodomain, and plays a key role in the development of eye, brain, and pancreas in vertebrates ... [more ▼]

Pax6 is a well conserved transcription factor that contains two DNA-binding domains, a paired domain and a homeodomain, and plays a key role in the development of eye, brain, and pancreas in vertebrates. The recent identification of the zebrafish sunrise mutant, harboring a mutation in the pax6b homeobox and presenting eye abnormalities but no obvious pancreatic defects, raised a question about the role of pax6b in zebrafish pancreas. We show here that pax6b does play an essential role in pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation, as revealed by the phenotype of a novel zebrafish pax6b null mutant and of embryos injected with pax6b morpholinos. Pax6b-depleted embryos have almost no beta cells, a strongly reduced number of delta cells, and a significant increase of epsilon cells. Through the use of various morpholinos targeting intron-exon junctions, pax6b RNA splicing was perturbed at several sites, leading either to retention of intronic sequences or to deletion of exonic sequences in the pax6b transcript. By this strategy, we show that deletion of the Pax6b homeodomain in zebrafish embryos does not disturb pancreas development, whereas lens formation is strongly affected. These data thus provide the explanation for the lack of pancreatic defects in the sunrise pax6b mutants. In addition, partial reduction of Pax6b function in zebrafish embryos performed by injection of small amounts of pax6b morpholinos caused a clear rise in alpha cell number and in glucagon expression, emphasizing the importance of the fine tuning of the Pax6b level to its biological activity. [less ▲]

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