Direct transcriptional regulation of Six6 is controlled by SoxB1 binding to a remote forebrain enhancer.
ABSTRACT: Six6, a sine oculis homeobox protein, plays a crucial and conserved role in the development of the forebrain and eye. To understand how the expression of Six6 is regulated during embryogenesis, we screened ~250 kb of genomic DNA encompassing the Six6 locus for cis-regulatory elements capable of directing reporter gene expression to sites of Six6 transcription in transgenic mouse embryos. Here, we describe two novel enhancer elements, that are highly conserved in vertebrate species and whose activities recapitulate Six6 expression in the ventral forebrain and eye, respectively. Cross-species comparisons of the Six6 forebrain enhancer sequences revealed highly conserved binding sites matching the consensus for homeodomain and SoxB1 transcription factors. Deletion of either of the binding sites resulted in loss of the forebrain enhancer activity in the ventral forebrain. Moreover, our studies show that members of the SoxB1 family, including Sox2 and Sox3, are expressed in the overlapping region of the ventral forebrain with Six6 and can bind to the Six6 forebrain enhancer. Loss of function of SoxB1 genes in vivo further emphasizes their role in regulating Six6 forebrain enhancer activity. Thus, our data strongly suggest that SoxB1 transcription factors are direct activators of Six6 expression in the ventral forebrain.
Project description:The eye field transcription factor, Six6, is essential for both the early (specification and proliferative growth) phase of eye formation, as well as for normal retinal progenitor cell differentiation. While genomic regions driving six6 optic cup expression have been described, the sequences controlling eye field and optic vesicle expression are unknown. Two evolutionary conserved regions 5' and a third 3' to the six6 coding region were identified, and together they faithfully replicate the endogenous X. laevis six6 expression pattern. Transgenic lines were generated and used to determine the onset and expression patterns controlled by the regulatory regions. The conserved 3' region was necessary and sufficient for eye field and optic vesicle expression. In contrast, the two conserved enhancer regions located 5' of the coding sequence were required together for normal optic cup and mature retinal expression. Gain-of-function experiments indicate endogenous six6 and GFP expression in F1 transgenic embryos are similarly regulated in response to candidate trans-acting factors. Importantly, CRISPR/CAS9-mediated deletion of the 3' eye field/optic vesicle enhancer in X. laevis, resulted in a reduction in optic vesicle size. These results identify the cis-acting regions, demonstrate the modular nature of the elements controlling early versus late retinal expression, and identify potential regulators of six6 expression during the early stages of eye formation.
Project description:The histoarchitecture and function of eye and forebrain depend on a well-controlled balance between cell proliferation and differentiation. For example, the binding of the cell cycle regulator GEMININ to CDT1, which is a part of the pre-replication complex, promotes cell differentiation. Homeodomain transcription factors SIX3 and SIX6 also interact with GEMININ of which SIX3-GEMININ interaction promotes cell proliferation, whereas the nature of SIX6-GEMININ interaction has not been studied to date. We investigated SIX3/SIX6 and GEMININ interactions using bimolecular fluorescence complementation, surface plasmon resonance and isothermal titration calorimetry. Interactions between SIX3/SIX6 and GEMININ were detected in mammalian cells in culture. The presence of the C-terminal regions of SIX3 and SIX6 proteins, but not their SIX domains or homeodomains as previously thought, were required for interaction with GEMININ. Interestingly, the disordered C- and N- terminal regions of GEMININ were involved in binding to SIX3/SIX6. The coiled-coil region of GEMININ, which is the known protein-binding domain and also interacts with CDT1, was not involved in GEMININ-SIX3/SIX6 interaction. Using SPR and ITC, SIX3 bound GEMININ with a micromolar affinity and the binding stoichiometry was 1:2 (SIX3 - GEMININ). The present study gives new insights into the binding properties of SIX proteins, especially the role of their variable and disordered C-terminal regions.
Project description:Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common subtype and is a complex trait with multigenic inheritance. Genome-wide association studies have previously identified a significant association between POAG and the SIX6 locus (rs10483727, odds ratio (OR)?=?1.32, p?=?3.87×10(-11)). SIX6 plays a role in ocular development and has been associated with the morphology of the optic nerve. We sequenced the SIX6 coding and regulatory regions in 262 POAG cases and 256 controls and identified six nonsynonymous coding variants, including five rare and one common variant, Asn141His (rs33912345), which was associated significantly with POAG (OR?=?1.27, p?=?4.2×10(-10)) in the NEIGHBOR/GLAUGEN datasets. These variants were tested in an in vivo Danio rerio (zebrafish) complementation assay to evaluate ocular metrics such as eye size and optic nerve structure. Five variants, found primarily in POAG cases, were hypomorphic or null, while the sixth variant, found only in controls, was benign. One variant in the SIX6 enhancer increased expression of SIX6 and disrupted its regulation. Finally, to our knowledge for the first time, we have identified a clinical feature in POAG patients that appears to be dependent upon SIX6 genotype: patients who are homozygous for the SIX6 risk allele (His141) have a statistically thinner retinal nerve fiber layer than patients homozygous for the SIX6 non-risk allele (Asn141). Our results, in combination with previous SIX6 work, lead us to hypothesize that SIX6 risk variants disrupt the development of the neural retina, leading to a reduced number of retinal ganglion cells, thereby increasing the risk of glaucoma-associated vision loss.
Project description:Causative genetic variants for more than 30 heritable eye disorders in dogs have been reported. For other clinically described eye disorders, the genetic cause is still unclear. We investigated four Golden Retriever litters segregating for highly variable congenital eye malformations. Several affected puppies had unilateral or bilateral retina dysplasia and/or optic nerve hypoplasia. The four litters shared the same father or grandfather suggesting a heritable condition with an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. The genome of one affected dog was sequenced and compared to 601 control genomes. A heterozygous private nonsense variant, c.487C>T, was found in the SIX6 gene. This variant is predicted to truncate about a third of the open reading frame, p.(Gln163*). We genotyped all available family members and 464 unrelated Golden Retrievers. All three available cases were heterozygous. Five additional close relatives including the common sire were also heterozygous, but did not show any obvious eye phenotypes. The variant was absent from the 464 unrelated Golden Retrievers and 17 non-affected siblings of the cases. The SIX6 protein is a homeobox transcription factor with a known role in eye development. In humans and other species, SIX6 loss of function variants were reported to cause congenital eye malformations. This strongly suggests that the c.487C>T variant detected contributed to the observed eye malformations. We hypothesize that the residual amount of functional SIX6 protein likely to be expressed in heterozygous dogs is sufficient to explain the observed incomplete penetrance and the varying severity of the eye defects in the affected dogs.
Project description:Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is a complex disease of multigenic inheritance and the most common subtype of glaucoma. SIX6 encodes a transcription factor involved in retina, optic nerve, and pituitary development. Previous studies showed a genetic association between the SIX6 locus and POAG, identifying risk alleles. Whether these alleles are present also in the south Indian population is unclear.To address this question, the SIX6 gene and an already characterized and highly conserved SIX6 enhancer (Ch14:60974427-60974430) were sequenced in two south Indian cohorts, respectively, composed of 65/65 and 200/200 POAG cases/age-matched controls. We next used Taqman-based allelic discrimination assay to genotype a common variant (rs33912345: c.421A>C) and the rs1048372 SNP in two cohorts, respectively, composed of 557/387 and 590/448 POAG cases/age-matched controls. An additional cohort of 153 POAG cases was subsequently recruited to assess the association of the rs33912345:c.421A>C and rs10483727 variants with more prominent changes in two POAG diagnostic parameters: retinal nerve fiber layer thickness and vertical cup/disc ratio, using spectral domain optical coherence tomography. The activity of the newly identified enhancer variants was assessed by transgenesis in zebrafish and luciferase assays.We identified two known rare and two common variants in the SIX6 locus and a novel 4 bp deletion in the analyzed enhancer. Contrary to previous studies, we could not establish a significant association between the rs10483727 and rs33912345:c.421A>C variants and PAOG in the south Indian ethnicity but patients carrying the corresponding C or T risk alleles exhibited a dose-dependent reduction of the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer and a significant increase in the vertical cup/disc ratio. Transgenesis in zebrafish and luciferase assays demonstrated that the newly identified 4 bp deletion significantly reduced reporter expression in cells of the retinal ganglion and amacrine layers, where human SIX6 is expressed.Altogether, our data further support the implication of SIX6 variants as POAG risk factors and implicates SIX6 haploinsufficiency in POAG pathogenesis.
Project description:The hypothalamus, pituitary, and gonads coordinate to direct the development and regulation of reproductive function in mammals. Control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis is dependent on correct migration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons from the nasal placode to the hypothalamus, followed by proper synthesis and pulsatile secretion of GnRH, functions absent in patients with hypogonadal hypogonadism. In this study, we identify sine oculis-related homeobox 6 (Six6) as a novel factor necessary for proper targeting of GnRH expression to the limited population of GnRH neurons within the adult mouse hypothalamus and demonstrate that it is required for proper reproductive function in both male and female mice. Female Six6-null mice exhibit a striking decrease in fertility, failing to progress through the estrous cycle normally, show any signs of successful ovulation, or produce litters. Although basal gonadotropin production in these mice is relatively normal, analysis of GnRH expression reveals a dramatic decrease in total GnRH neuron numbers. We show that expression of Six6 is dramatically increased during GnRH neuronal maturation and that overexpression of Six6 induces GnRH transcription in neuronal cells. Finally, we demonstrate that this induction in GnRH expression is mediated via binding of Six6 to evolutionarily conserved ATTA sites located within the GnRH proximal promoter. Together, these data indicate that Six6 plays an important role in the regulation of GnRH expression and hypothalamic control of fertility.
Project description:The reiterative deployment of a small cadre of morphogen signals underlies patterning and growth of most tissues during embyogenesis, but how such inductive events result in tissue-specific responses remains poorly understood. By characterizing cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) associated with genes regulated by Sonic hedgehog (Shh), retinoids, or bone morphogenetic proteins in the CNS, we provide evidence that the neural-specific interpretation of morphogen signaling reflects a direct integration of these pathways with SoxB1 proteins at the CRM level. Moreover, expression of SoxB1 proteins in the limb bud confers on mesodermal cells the potential to activate neural-specific target genes upon Shh, retinoid, or bone morphogenetic protein signaling, and the collocation of binding sites for SoxB1 and morphogen-mediatory transcription factors in CRMs faithfully predicts neural-specific gene activity. Thus, an unexpectedly simple transcriptional paradigm appears to conceptually explain the neural-specific interpretation of pleiotropic signaling during vertebrate development. Importantly, genes induced in a SoxB1-dependent manner appear to constitute repressive gene regulatory networks that are directly interlinked at the CRM level to constrain the regional expression of patterning genes. Accordingly, not only does the topology of SoxB1-driven gene regulatory networks provide a tissue-specific mode of gene activation, but it also determines the spatial expression pattern of target genes within the developing neural tube.
Project description:Human pluripotent stem cells represent an exciting tool to investigate the mechanisms of human eye development and to build human models of retinal dystrophy. To explore the dynamics of early eye development in a carefully controlled setting and optimize this process, we have developed an eyefield expressed SIX6-GFP reporter that enables the systematic optimization of early eye-field development allowing the identification of conditions that favor early optic development. Overall design: Pooled day 65 retina cups (n>3/sample) were separated as either GFP- (n=4), GFP+ (n=4) or SIX6+/POU4F2+ (n=4) samples (total of 12 samples run for RNA-seq).
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: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.