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1.  CBFβ is a facultative Runx partner in the sea urchin embryo 
BMC Biology  2006;4:4.
Background
Runx proteins are developmentally important metazoan transcription factors that form a heterodimeric complex with the non-homologous protein Core Binding Factor β (CBFβ). CBFβ allosterically enhances Runx DNA binding but does not bind DNA itself. We report the initial characterization of SpCBFβ, the heterodimeric partner of SpRunt-1 from the sea urchin Stronylocentrotus purpuratus.
Results
SpCBFβ is remarkably similar to its mammalian homologues, and like them it enhances the DNA binding of the Runt domain. SpCBFβ is entirely of zygotic provenance and its expression is similar that of SpRunt-1, accumulating globally at late blastula stage then later localizing to endoderm and oral ectoderm. Unlike SpRunt-1, however, SpCBFβ is enriched in the endodermal mid- and hindgut of the pluteus larva, and is not highly expressed in the foregut and ciliated band. We showed previously that morpholino antisense-mediated knockdown of SpRunt-1 leads to differentiation defects, as well as to extensive post-blastula stage apoptosis caused by under-expression of the Runx target gene SpPKC1. In contrast, we show here that knockdown of SpCBFβ does not negatively impact cell survival or SpPKC1 expression, although it does lead to differentiation defects similar to those associated with SpRunt-1 deficiency. Moreover, SpRunt-1 containing a single amino acid substitution that abolishes its ability to interact with SpCBFβ retains the ability to rescue cell survival in SpRunt-1 morphant embryos. Chromatin immunoprecipitation shows that while the CyIIIa promoter engages both proteins, the SpPKC1 promoter only engages SpRunt-1.
Conclusion
SpCBFβ is a facultative Runx partner that appears to be required specifically for cell differentiation.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-4-4
PMCID: PMC1395345  PMID: 16469111
2.  Runx-dependent expression of PKC is critical for cell survival in the sea urchin embryo 
BMC Biology  2005;3:18.
Background
Runx transcription factors play critical roles in the developmental control of cell fate and contribute variously as oncoproteins and tumor suppressors to leukemia and other cancers. To discover fundamental Runx functions in the cell biology of animal development, we have employed morpholino antisense-mediated knockdown of the sea urchin Runx protein SpRunt-1. Previously we showed that embryos depleted of SpRunt-1 arrest development at early gastrula stage and underexpress the conventional protein kinase C SpPKC1.
Results
We report here that SpRunt-1 deficiency leads to ectopic cell proliferation and extensive apoptosis. Suppression of the apoptosis by pharmacological inhibition of caspase-3 prevents the ectopic proliferation and rescues gastrulation, indicating that many of the overt defects obtained by knockdown of SpRunt-1 are secondary to the apoptosis. Inhibition or knockdown of SpPKC1 also causes apoptosis, while cell survival is rescued in SpRunt-1 morphant embryos coinjected with SpPKC1 mRNA, suggesting that the apoptosis associated with SpRunt-1 deficiency is caused by the deficit in SpPKC1 expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation indicates that SpRunt-1 interacts physically with SpPKC1 in vivo, and cis-regulatory analysis shows that this interaction activates SpPKC1 transcription.
Conclusions
Our results show that Runx-dependent activation of SpPKC1 is essential for maintaining protein kinase C activity at levels conducive to cell survival during embryogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-3-18
PMCID: PMC1187879  PMID: 16076398
3.  Evaluation of developmental phenotypes produced by morpholino antisense targeting of a sea urchin Runx gene 
BMC Biology  2004;2:6.
Background
Runx transcription factors are important regulators of metazoan development. The sea urchin Runx gene SpRunt was previously identified as a trans-activator of the CyIIIa actin gene, a differentiation marker of larval aboral ectoderm. Here we extend the functional analysis of SpRunt, using morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (morpholinos) to interfere with SpRunt expression in the embryo.
Results
The developmental effects of four different SpRunt-specific morpholinos were evaluated. The two morpholinos most effective at knocking down SpRunt produce an identical mitotic catastrophe phenotype at late cleavage stage that is an artifact of coincidental mis-targeting to histone mRNA, providing a cautionary example of the insufficiency of two different morpholinos as a control for specificity. The other two morpholinos produce gastrula stage proliferation and differentiation defects that are rescued by exogenous SpRunt mRNA. The expression of 22 genes involved in cell proliferation and differentiation was analyzed in the latter embryos by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Knockdown of SpRunt was found to perturb the expression of differentiation markers in all of the major tissue territories as well as the expression of cell cycle control genes, including cyclin B and cyclin D.
Conclusions
SpRunt is essential for embryonic development, and is required globally to coordinate cell proliferation and differentiation.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-2-6
PMCID: PMC419381  PMID: 15132741

Results 1-3 (3)