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Development August 19, 2019; 146 (16):

Genome-wide identification of binding sites and gene targets of Alx1, a pivotal regulator of echinoderm skeletogenesis.

Khor JM , Guerrero-Santoro J , Ettensohn CA .

Alx1 is a conserved regulator of skeletogenesis in echinoderms and evolutionary changes in Alx1 sequence and expression have played a pivotal role in modifying programs of skeletogenesis within the phylum. Alx1 regulates a large suite of effector genes that control the morphogenetic behaviors and biomineral-forming activities of skeletogenic cells. To better understand the gene regulatory control of skeletogenesis by Alx1, we used genome-wide ChIP-seq to identify Alx1-binding sites and direct gene targets. Our analysis revealed that many terminal differentiation genes receive direct transcriptional inputs from Alx1. In addition, we found that intermediate transcription factors previously shown to be downstream of Alx1 all receive direct inputs from Alx1. Thus, Alx1 appears to regulate effector genes by indirect, as well as direct, mechanisms. We tested 23 high-confidence ChIP-seq peaks using GFP reporters and identified 18 active cis-regulatory modules (CRMs); this represents a high success rate for CRM discovery. Detailed analysis of a representative CRM confirmed that a conserved, palindromic Alx1-binding site was essential for expression. Our work significantly advances our understanding of the gene regulatory circuitry that controls skeletogenesis in sea urchins and provides a framework for evolutionary studies.

PubMed ID: 31331943
Article link: Development

Genes referenced: alx1 LOC100888549 LOC586304