Expression and Regulation of the Zinc Finger Transcription Factor Churchill During Zebrafish Development

Gene Expr Patterns. 2007 Jun;7(6):645-50. doi: 10.1016/j.modgep.2007.04.002. Epub 2007 May 4.


During gastrulation dynamic cell movements establish the germ layers and shape the body axis of the vertebrate embryo. The zinc finger protein Churchill (chch) has been proposed to be a key regulator of these movements. We examined the expression pattern of chch in zebrafish and studied the regulation of chch by FGF signaling. We observed zygotic expression of chch during early cleavage stages. Two lines of evidence demonstrate that chch is zygotically expressed prior to the mid-blastula transition. First, blocking transcription during early cleavage stages represses chch expression. Second, endogenous levels of chch transcripts increase between 1-cell and 16-cell embryos. chch remains widely expressed during blastula and gastrula stages but scattered cells express higher levels of chch. By somitogenesis, chch is expressed in the ventral-most cells of the embryo adjacent to the yolk. In addition, transcripts are also observed in superficial cells on the surface of the yolk, in presumptive mucous cells and keratinocytes. By 30 hpf transcripts are observed in anterior neural tissue and ventral cells adjacent to the yolk. Over the next three days chch expression is indistinct until 4 dpf when we observe expression in the pharynx and gut. We show that activation of FGF signaling during gastrulation is sufficient to induce chch expression. In addition, we demonstrate that blocking FGF signaling between the 4-cell and shield stages represses chch expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastula / physiology
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chickens / genetics
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genome
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / growth & development
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics*
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics
  • Zygote / physiology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Trans-Activators
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • churc1 protein, zebrafish
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors