Goosecoid is a homeobox gene that is expressed as an immediate early response to mesoderm induction by activin. We have investigated the induction of the zebrafish goosecoid promoter by the mesoderm inducing factors activin and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in dissociated zebrafish blastula cells, as well as by different wnts in intact embryos. Activin induces promoter activity, while bFGF shows a cooperative effect with activin. We have identified two enhancer elements that are functional in the induction of the goosecoid promoter. A distal element confers activin responsiveness to a heterologous promoter in the absence of de novo protein synthesis, whereas a proximal element responds only to a combination of activin and bFGE Deletion experiments show that both elements are important for full induction by activin. Nuclear proteins that bind to these elements are expressed in blastula embryos, and competition experiments show that an octamer site in the activin responsive distal element is specifically bound, suggesting a role for an octamer binding factor in the regulation of goosecoid expression by activin. Experiments in intact embryos reveal that the proximal element contains sequences that respond to Xwnt1, but not to Xwnt5c. Furthermore, we show that the distal element is active in a confined dorsal domain in embryos and responds to overexpression of activin in vivo, as well as to dorsalization by lithium. The distal element is to our knowledge the first enhancer element identified that mediates the induction of a mesodermal gene by activin.

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Mechanisms of Development
Department of Pathology

Joore, J, Fasciana, C, Speksnijder, J.E, Kruijer, M, Destrée, A, van den Eijnden-van Raaij, A.J.M, … Zivkovic, D. (1996). Regulation of the zebrafish goosecoid promoter by mesoderm inducing factors and Xwnt1. Mechanisms of Development, 55(1), 3–18. doi:10.1016/0925-4773(95)00481-5