The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 40: 297 - 304 (1996)

Vol 40, Issue 1

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in Germany

Regulation and function of the tissue-specific transcription factor HNF1 alpha (LFB1) during Xenopus development

Published: 1 February 1996

H Weber, E P Strandmann, B Holewa, S Bartkowski, D Zapp, C Zoidl and G U Ryffel

Institut f├╝r Zellbiologie (Tumorforschung), Universit├Ątsklinikum, Essen, Germany.


We review the data available on the structure, developmental appearance and embryonic regulation of the tissue-specific transcription factor HNF1 alpha (LFB1) in Xenopus. The expression of the HNF1 alpha gene starts early in embryogenesis shortly after mid-blastula transition and the protein accumulates in the region of the embryo where liver, pronephros and gut--tissues that contain HNF1 alpha in the adult--are developing. The cofactor DCoH, known to stabilize dimer formation of HNF1 alpha, is present as a maternal factor in the egg and has a partially distinct tissue distribution compared to HNF1 alpha. This implies that DCoH does not only modulate HNF1 alpha dimerization but may also cooperate with other transcription factors. By injecting HNF1 alpha promoter CAT constructs into fertilized Xenopus eggs we obtained activation of the injected gene restricted to the region of the developing larvae expressing endogenous HNF1 alpha. Deletion analysis allowed to define the OZ-element that is essential for embryonic activation. This element also occurs in other promoters activated at mid-blastula transition in the embryo and interacts with the maternal factor OZ-1. As the HNF1 alpha promoter also contains functional binding sites for HNF4 and HNF1, we postulate that all of these transcription factors contribute to the cascade leading to proper embryonic activation of the HNF1 alpha gene.

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