Expression and function of blimp1/krox, an alternatively transcribed regulatory gene of the sea urchin endomesoderm network.

Carolina B. Livi, Eric H. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The blimp1/krox gene of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, formerly krox1, encodes zinc finger transcription factors which play a central role in both early and late endomesoderm specification. Here we show that there are two alternative splice forms transcribed under the control of different regulatory regions. The blimp/krox1b form was previously unknown, and is the form expressed during cleavage, beginning 6-9 h postfertilization. This form is required for the early events of endomesoderm specification. A different splice variant, blimp1/krox1a, is expressed only from gastrula stage onward. During cleavage stages the blimp1/krox gene is expressed in the large micromeres and veg2 descendents. Soon after, it is expressed in the ring of specified mesoderm cells at the vegetal pole of the blastula. Its expression is later restricted to the blastopore region and the posterior of the invaginating archenteron, and finally to the midgut and hindgut of the pluteus larva. The expression of blimp1/krox is dynamic, and involves several distinct spatial territories. A GFP recombinant BAC was created by substituting the GFP coding sequence for that of the second exon (1b), in order to distinguish the expression pattern of the early form from that of the late form. This construct closely mimics blimp1/krox1b expression during early stages of sea urchin development. To expand our knowledge of the downstream linkages of this gene, additional experiments were carried out using antisense morpholino oligos (MASO). We confirmed previously published data that blimp1/krox autoregulates its own expression, but discovered, surprisingly, that this gene represses rather than activates itself. This negative autoregulation is restricted to the mesodermal and probably skeletogenic territories during the blastula stage, as shown by in situ hybridization analysis of MASO injected embryos. The MASO perturbation analysis also revealed blimp1/krox inputs into other genes of the endomesoderm regulatory network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-525
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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