Zebrafish pou5f3 (previously named pou2), a close homologue of mouse Oct4, encodes a PouV-family transcription factor. pou5f3 has been implicated in diverse aspects of developmental regulation during embryogenesis. In the present study, we addressed the molecular function of Pou5f3 as a transcriptional regulator and the mechanism by which pou5f3 expression is transcriptionally regulated. We examined the influence of effector genes on the expression of the luciferase gene under the control of the upstream 2.1-kb regulatory DNA of pou5f3 (Luc-2.2) in HEK293T and P19 cells. We first confirmed that Pou5f3 functions as a transcriptional activator both in cultured cells and embryos, which confirmed autoregulation of pou5f3 in embryos. It was further shown that Luc-2.2 was activated synergistically by pou5f3 and sox3, which is similar to the co-operative activity of Oct4 and Sox2 in mice, although synergy between pou5f3 and sox2 was less obvious in this zebrafish system. The effects of pou5f3 deletion constructs on the regulation of Luc-2.2 expression revealed different roles for the three subregions of the N-terminal region in Pou5f3 in terms of its regulatory functions and co-operativity with Sox3. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays confirmed that Pou5f3 and Sox3 proteins specifically bind to adjacent sites in the 2.1-kb DNA and that there is an interaction between the two proteins. The synergy with sox3 was unique to pou5f3-the other POU factor genes examined did not show such synergy in Luc-2.2 regulation. Finally, functional interaction was observed between pou5f3 and sox3 in embryos in terms of the regulation of dorsoventral patterning and convergent extension movement. These findings together demonstrate co-operative functions of pou5f3 and sox3, which are frequently coexpressed in early embryos, in the regulation of early development.
Keywords: Oct4; Pou5f3; PouV transcription factor; SoxB1; Zebrafish.
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