The staggering functional and anatomical complexity of the vertebrate brain arises gradually during embryonic development from an initially uniform field of cells. We would like to understand the early steps of brain development, in particular, formation of asymmetry along the dorsal/ventral axis of the brain primordium. This study will address the roles of two related transcription factors, zic2 and zic5, during dorsal brain formation. Important functions for both genes have already been demonstrated in several vertebrates, but their mechanisms are not understood. In humans, mutations in zic2 and zic5 have been causally linked to two prevalent birth defects: exencephaly and holoprosencephaly. Expression of zic genes is restricted to the dorsal portion of the neural tube, and this restriction is critical for their correct function. In spite of their obvious importance, the molecular mechanisms of regulation and function of vertebrate zic genes are not well understood. We have obtained exciting preliminary evidence that zic2 and zic5 regulate transcription of wntl, a gene with essential functions during dorsal brain formation, and that Wnt signaling in turn regulates transcription of zics. These data have led us to propose that wht and zic genes are involved in a regulatory feedback loop. This novel hypothesis will help explain at least some of the defects observed in zic mutants, and will be tested in a different model system, the zebrafish. Zebrafish embryos are available during all stages of brain development, are easy to observe and manipulate, and have a short generation time. As a result, powerful genetic, genomic and embryological methods have been established for use in this model organism. Strong evolutionary conservation of the zic gene family ensures that this study will uncover shared molecular mechanisms that operate during brain formation in all vertebrates, including humans. Ultimately, this work will contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying birth defects that affect embryonic development of the vetebrate brain.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
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Development - 1 Study Section (DEV)
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Haynes, Susan R
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University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Goswami, Srikanta; Tarapore, Rohinton S; Poenitzsch Strong, Ashley M et al. (2015) MicroRNA-340-mediated degradation of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) mRNA is inhibited by coding region determinant-binding protein (CRD-BP). J Biol Chem 290:384-95
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Goswami, Srikanta; Tarapore, Rohinton S; Teslaa, Jessica J et al. (2010) MicroRNA-340-mediated degradation of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor mRNA is inhibited by the coding region determinant-binding protein. J Biol Chem 285:20532-40
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