Interaction of Sox1, Sox2, Sox3 and Oct4 during primary neurogenesis.
ABSTRACT: Sox1, Sox2 and Sox3, the three members of the SoxB1 subgroup of transcription factors, have similar sequences, expression patterns and overexpression phenotypes. Thus, it has been suggested that they have redundant roles in the maintenance of neural stem cells in development. However, the long-term effect of overexpression or their function in combination with their putative co-factor Oct4 has not been tested. Here, we show that overexpression of sox1, sox2, sox3 or oct91, the Xenopus homologue of Oct4, results in the same phenotype: an expanded neural plate at the expense of epidermis and delayed neurogenesis. However, each of these proteins induced a unique profile of neural markers and the combination of Oct91 with each SoxB1 protein had different effects, as did continuous misexpression of the proteins. Overexpression studies indicate that Oct91 preferentially cooperates with Sox2 to maintain neural progenitor marker expression, while knockdown of Oct91 inhibits neural induction driven by either Sox2 or Sox3. Continuous expression of Sox1 and Sox2 in transgenic embryos represses neuron differentiation and inhibits anterior development while increasing cell proliferation. Constitutively active Sox3, however, leads to increased apoptosis suggesting that it functions as a tumor suppressor. While the SoxB1s have overlapping functions, they are not strictly redundant as they induce different sets of genes and are likely to partner with different proteins to maintain progenitor identity.
Project description:SoxB1 sub-family of transcriptional regulators are expressed in progenitor (NP) cells throughout the neuroaxis and are generally downregulated during neuronal differentiation. Gain- and loss-of-function studies indicate that Sox1, Sox2 and Sox3 are key regulators of NP differentiation and that their roles in CNS development are largely redundant. Nevertheless, mutation of each SoxB1 individually results in a different array of CNS defects, raising the possibility that SoxB1 proteins have subtly different functions in NP cells. To explore the mechanism of SOXB1 functional redundancy, and to identify genes that are most sensitive to loss of the Sox3 gene, we performed genome wide expression profiling of Sox3 null NP cells. Nineteen genes with abnormal expression were identified, including the homeobox gene Dbx1. Analysis of Sox3 null embryos revealed that Dbx1 was significantly reduced in the neural tube and developing brain and that SOX3 bound directly to conserved elements associated with this gene in cultured NP cells and in vivo. These data define Dbx1 as a direct SOX3 target gene whose expression, intriguingly, is not fully rescued by other SOXB1 transcription factors, suggesting that there are inherent differences in SOXB1 protein activity.
Project description:Sox3/SOX3 is one of the earliest neural markers in vertebrates. Together with the Sox1/SOX1 and Sox2/SOX2 genes it is implicated in the regulation of stem cell identity. In the present study, we performed the first analysis of epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and histone marks) involved in the regulation of the human SOX3 gene expression during RA-induced neural differentiation of NT2/D1 cells. We show that the promoter of the human SOX3 gene is extremely hypomethylated both in undifferentiated NT2/D1 cells and during the early phases of RA-induced neural differentiation. By employing chromatin immunoprecipitation, we analyze several histone modifications across different regions of the SOX3 gene and their dynamics following initiation of differentiation. In the same timeframe we investigate profiles of selected histone marks on the promoters of human SOX1 and SOX2 genes. We demonstrate differences in histone signatures of SOX1, SOX2 and SOX3 genes. Considering the importance of SOXB1 genes in the process of neural differentiation, the present study contributes to a better understanding of epigenetic mechanisms implicated in the regulation of pluripotency maintenance and commitment towards the neural lineage.
Project description:Neural precursor cells of the ventricular zone give rise to all neurons and glia of the central nervous system and rely for maintenance of their precursor characteristics on the closely related SoxB1 transcription factors Sox1, Sox2 and Sox3. We show in mouse spinal cord that, whereas SoxB1 proteins are usually downregulated upon neuronal specification, they continue to be expressed in glial precursors. In the oligodendrocyte lineage, Sox2 and Sox3 remain present into the early phases of terminal differentiation. Surprisingly, their deletion does not alter precursor characteristics but interferes with proper differentiation. Although a direct influence on myelin gene expression may be part of their function, we provide evidence for another mode of action. SoxB1 proteins promote oligodendrocyte differentiation in part by negatively controlling miR145 and thereby preventing this microRNA from inhibiting several pro-differentiation factors. This study presents one of the few cases in which SoxB1 proteins, including the stem cell factor Sox2, are associated with differentiation rather than precursor functions.
Project description:The transcription factor SOX3 is expressed within most neural progenitor (NP) cells of the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) and is essential for normal brain development in mice and humans. However, despite the widespread expression of Sox3, CNS defects in null mice are relatively mild due to functional redundancy with the other SOXB1 sub-group members Sox1 and Sox2. To further understand the molecular function of SOX3, we investigated the genome-wide binding profile of endogenous SOX3 in NP cells using ChIP-seq. SOX3 binding was identified at over 8,000 sites, most of which were intronic or intergeneic and were significantly associated with neurodevelopmental genes. The majority of binding sites were moderately or highly conserved (phastCons scores >0.1 and 0.5, respectively) and included the previously characterised, SOXB1-binding Nestin NP cell enhancer. Comparison of SOX3 and published ChIP-Seq data for the co-activator P300 in embryonic brain identified hundreds of highly conserved putative enhancer elements. In addition, we identified a subset of highly conserved putative enhancers for CNS development genes common to SOXB1 members in NP cells, all of which contained the SOX consensus motif (ACAAWR). Together these data implicate SOX3 in the direct regulation of hundreds of NP genes and provide molecular insight into the overlapping roles of SOXB1 proteins in CNS development.
Project description:The SRY-related, HMG box SoxB1 transcription factors are highly homologous, evolutionarily conserved proteins that are expressed in neuroepithelial cells throughout neural development. SoxB1 genes are down-regulated as cells exit the cell-cycle to differentiate and are considered functionally redundant in maintaining neural precursor populations. However, little is known about Sox3 function and its mode of action during primary neurogenesis. Using gain and loss-of-function studies, we analyzed Sox3 function in detail in Xenopus early neural development and compared it to that of Sox2. Through these studies we identified the first targets of a SoxB1 protein during primary neurogenesis. Sox3 functions as an activator to induce expression of the early neural genes, sox2 and geminin in the absence of protein synthesis and to indirectly inhibit the Bmp target Xvent2. As a result, Sox3 increases cell proliferation, delays neurogenesis and inhibits epidermal and neural crest formation to expand the neural plate. Our studies indicate that Sox3 and 2 have many similar functions in this process including the ability to activate expression of geminin in naïve ectodermal explants. However, there are some differences; Sox3 activates the expression of sox2, while Sox2 does not activate expression of sox3 and sox3 is uniquely expressed throughout the ectoderm prior to neural induction suggesting a role in neural competence. With morpholino-mediated knockdown of Sox3, we demonstrate that it is required for induction of neural tissue by BMP inhibition. Together these data indicate that Sox3 has multiple roles in early neural development including as a factor required for nogginmediated neural induction.
Project description:Deletion of Sox2 from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) causes trophectodermal differentiation. While this can be prevented by enforced expression of the related SOXB1 proteins, SOX1 or SOX3, the roles of SOXB1 proteins in epiblast stem cell (EpiSC) pluripotency are unknown. Here, we show that Sox2 can be deleted from EpiSCs with impunity. This is due to a shift in the balance of SoxB1 expression in EpiSCs, which have decreased Sox2 and increased Sox3 compared to ESCs. Consistent with functional redundancy, Sox3 can also be deleted from EpiSCs without eliminating self-renewal. However, deletion of both Sox2 and Sox3 prevents self-renewal. The overall SOXB1 levels in ESCs affect differentiation choices: neural differentiation of Sox2 heterozygous ESCs is compromised, while increased SOXB1 levels divert the ESC to EpiSC transition towards neural differentiation. Therefore, optimal SOXB1 levels are critical for each pluripotent state and for cell fate decisions during exit from naïve pluripotency.
Project description:SOX1 is a member of the SOXB1 subgroup of transcription factors involved in early embryogenesis, CNS development and maintenance of neural stem cells. The structure and regulation of the human SOX1 locus has been less studied than that of SOX2, another member of the SOXB1 subgroup for which an overlapping transcript has been reported. Here we report that the SOX1 locus harbours a SOX1 overlapping transcript (SOX1-OT), and describe expression, splicing variants and detection of SOX1-OT in different stem and cancer cells. RT-PCR and RACE experiments were performed to detect and characterise the structure of SOX1-OT in neuroprogenitor cultures and across different cancer cell lines. SOX1-OT was found to present a complex structure including several unannotated exons, different transcript variants and at least two potential transcription start sites. SOX1-OT was found to be highly expressed in differentiated neural stem cells across different time points of differentiation, and its expression correlated with SOX1 gene expression. Concomitant expression of SOX1 and SOX1-OT was further observed in several cancer cell models. While the function of this transcript is unknown, the regulatory role reported for other lncRNAs strongly suggests a possible role for SOX1-OT in regulating SOX1 expression, as previously observed for SOX2. The elucidation of the genetic and regulatory context governing SOX1 expression will contribute to clarifying its role in stem cell differentiation and tumorigenesis.
Project description:Little is known about the molecular mechanisms and intrinsic factors that are responsible for the emergence of neuronal subtype identity. Several transcription factors that are expressed mainly in precursors of the ventral telencephalon have been shown to control neuronal specification, but it has been unclear whether subtype identity is also specified in these precursors, or if this happens in postmitotic neurons, and whether it involves the same or different factors. SOX1, an HMG box transcription factor, is expressed widely in neural precursors along with the two other SOXB1 subfamily members, SOX2 and SOX3, and all three have been implicated in neurogenesis. SOX1 is also uniquely expressed at a high level in the majority of telencephalic neurons that constitute the ventral striatum (VS). These neurons are missing in Sox1-null mutant mice. In the present study, we have addressed the requirement for SOX1 at a cellular level, revealing both the nature and timing of the defect. By generating a novel Sox1-null allele expressing beta-galactosidase, we found that the VS precursors and their early neuronal differentiation are unaffected in the absence of SOX1, but the prospective neurons fail to migrate to their appropriate position. Furthermore, the migration of non-Sox1-expressing VS neurons (such as those expressing Pax6) was also affected in the absence of SOX1, suggesting that Sox1-expressing neurons play a role in structuring the area of the VS. To test whether SOX1 is required in postmitotic cells for the emergence of VS neuronal identity, we generated mice in which Sox1 expression was directed to all ventral telencephalic precursors, but to only a very few VS neurons. These mice again lacked most of the VS, indicating that SOX1 expression in precursors is not sufficient for VS development. Conversely, the few neurons in which Sox1 expression was maintained were able to migrate to the VS. In conclusion, Sox1 expression in precursors is not sufficient for VS neuronal identity and migration, but this is accomplished in postmitotic cells, which require the continued presence of SOX1. Our data also suggest that other SOXB1 members showing expression in specific neuronal populations are likely to play continuous roles from the establishment of precursors to their final differentiation.
Project description:The transcription factor SOX1 is a key regulator of neural stem cell development, acting to keep neural stem cells (NSCs) in an undifferentiated state. Postnatal expression of Sox1 is typically confined to the central nervous system (CNS), however, its expression in non-neural tissues has recently been implicated in tumorigenesis. The mechanism through which SOX1 may exert its function is not fully understood, and studies have mainly focused on changes in SOX1 expression at a transcriptional level, while its post-translational regulation remains undetermined. To investigate this, data were extracted from different publicly available databases and analysed to search for putative SOX1 post-translational modifications (PTMs). Results were compared to PTMs associated with SOX2 in order to identify potentially key PTM motifs common to these SOXB1 proteins, and mapped on SOX1 domain structural models. This approach identified several putative acetylation, phosphorylation, glycosylation and sumoylation sites within known functional domains of SOX1. In particular, a novel SOXB1 motif (xKSExSxxP) was identified within the SOX1 protein, which was also found in other unrelated proteins, most of which were transcription factors. These results also highlighted potential phospho-sumoyl switches within this SOXB1 motif identified in SOX1, which could regulate its transcriptional activity. This analysis indicates different types of PTMs within SOX1, which may influence its regulatory role as a transcription factor, by bringing changes to its DNA binding capacities and its interactions with partner proteins. These results provide new research avenues for future investigations on the mechanisms regulating SOX1 activity, which could inform its roles in the contexts of neural stem cell development and cancer.
Project description:The formation of the nervous system is initiated when ectodermal cells adopt the neural fate. Studies in Xenopus demonstrate that inhibition of BMP results in the formation of neural tissue. However, the molecular mechanism driving the expression of early neural genes in response to this inhibition is unknown. Moreover, controversy remains regarding the sufficiency of BMP inhibition for neural induction. To address these questions, we performed a detailed analysis of the regulation of the soxB1 gene, sox3, one of the earliest genes expressed in the neuroectoderm. Using ectodermal explant assays, we analyzed the role of BMP, Wnt and FGF signaling in the regulation of sox3 and the closely related soxB1 gene, sox2. Our results demonstrate that both sox3 and sox2 are induced in response to BMP antagonism, but by distinct mechanisms and that the activation of both genes is independent of FGF signaling. However, both require FGF for the maintenance of their expression. Finally, sox3 genomic elements were identified and characterized and an element required for BMP-mediated repression via Vent proteins was identified through the use of transgenesis and computational analysis. Interestingly, none of the elements required for sox3 expression were identified in the sox2 locus. Together our data indicate that two closely related genes have unique mechanisms of gene regulation at the onset of neural development.