• class V POU transcription factor;
  • mesendoderm specification;
  • Oct-3/4;
  • Pou2;
  • zebrafish

Zebrafish pou2, encoding the class V POU transcription factor orthologous to mouse Oct-3/4, has been implicated in different aspects of development, such as dorsoventral patterning, endoderm formation, and brain regionalization, by analyzing pou2 mutant embryos. In the present study, we first conducted overexpression of pou2-modified genes by mRNA injection, and found that pou2 and its active form (vp-pou2) augmented mesoderm formation and suppressed endoderm specification, whereas repressive pou2 (en-pou2) affected the formation of the mesoderm and endoderm in a different manner. To avoid complications that might arise from different pou2 functions during the course of development, we used a transgenic line harboring inducible en-pou2 (HEP), which could function in a dominant-negative manner. We found that suppressing endogenous pou2 by HEP induction at the mid-blastula stage enhanced endoderm development at the expense of mesoderm, whereas the same treatment in the late blastulae promoted mesoderm formation and suppressed the endoderm specification. Further analyses using HEP induction revealed that, from late epiboly to early somitogenesis, pou2 regulated additional developmental aspects, such as brain regionalization, heart development, and tail formation. Our findings suggest that Pou2 functions in multiple aspects of vertebrate development, especially in the binary decision of the mesendoderm to mesoderm and endoderm in different ways depending on the developmental stage.