Comparative genomic and expression analysis of group B1 sox genes in zebrafish indicates their diversification during vertebrate evolution

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Abstract

Group B1 Sox genes encode HMG domain transcription factors that play major roles in neural development. We have identified six zebrafish B1 sox genes, which include pan-vertebrate sox1a/b, sox2, and sox3, and also fish-specific sox19a/b. SOX19A/B proteins show a transcriptional activation potential that is similar to other B1 SOX proteins. The expression of sox19a and sox3 begins at approximately the 1,000-cell stage during embryogenesis and becomes confined to the future ectoderm by the shield stage. This is reminiscent of the epiblastic expression of Sox2 and/or Sox3 in amniotes. As development progresses, these six B1 sox genes display unique expression patterns that overlap distinctly from one region to another. sox19a expression is widespread in the early neuroectoderm, resembling pan-neural Sox2 expression in amniotes, whereas zebrafish sox2 shows anterior-restricted expression. Comparative genomics suggests that sox19a/b and mammalian Sox15 (group G) have an orthologous relationship and that the B1/G Sox genes arose from a common ancestral gene through two rounds of genome duplication. It seems likely, therefore, that each B1/G Sox gene has gained a distinct expression profile and function during vertebrate evolution. Developmental Dynamics 235:811–825, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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