Zic-r.a, a maternal transcription factor, specifies posterior fate in ascidian embryos. However, its direct target, Tbx6-r.b, does not contain typical Zic-r.a binding sites in its regulatory region. Using an in vitro selection assay, we found that Zic-r.a binds to sites dissimilar from the canonical motif, by which it activates Tbx6-r.b in a sub-lineage of muscle cells. These sites with non-canonical motifs have weak affinity for Zic-r.a; therefore, it activates Tbx6-r.b only in cells expressing Zic-r.a abundantly. Meanwhile, we found that Zic-r.a expressed zygotically in late embryos activates neural genes through canonical sites. Because different zinc-finger domains of Zic-r.a are important for driving reporters with canonical and non-canonical sites, it is likely that the non-canonical motif is not a divergent version of the canonical motif. In other words, our data indicate that the non-canonical motif represents a motif distinct from the canonical motif. Thus, Zic-r.a recognizes two distinct motifs to activate two sets of genes at two timepoints in development.

This content is only available via PDF.

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.