Direct transcriptional regulation of Six6 is controlled by SoxB1 binding to a remote forebrain enhancer


Six6, a sine oculis homeobox protein, plays a crucial and conserved role in the development of the forebrain and eye. To understand how the expression of Six6 is regulated during embryogenesis, we screened ~250 kb of genomic DNA encompassing the Six6 locus for cis-regulatory elements capable of directing reporter gene expression to sites of Six6 transcription in transgenic mouse embryos. Here, we describe two novel enhancer elements, that are highly conserved in vertebrate species and whose activities recapitulate Six6 expression in the ventral forebrain and eye, respectively. Cross-species comparisons of the Six6 forebrain enhancer sequences revealed highly conserved binding sites matching the consensus for homeodomain and SoxB1 transcription factors. Deletion of either of the binding sites resulted in loss of the forebrain enhancer activity in the ventral forebrain. Moreover, our studies show that members of the SoxB1 family, including Sox2 and Sox3, are expressed in the overlapping region of the ventral forebrain with Six6 and can bind to the Six6 forebrain enhancer. Loss of function of SoxB1 genes in vivo further emphasizes their role in regulating Six6 forebrain enhancer activity. Thus, our data strongly suggest that SoxB1 transcription factors are direct activators of Six6 expression in the ventral forebrain.

Journal details

Volume 366
Issue number 2
Pages 393-403
Publication date