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Cambridge, United Kingdom

Goode D.K.,Anatomy Building | Callaway H.A.,Queen Mary, University of London | Cerda G.A.,Anatomy Building | Lewis K.E.,Anatomy Building | And 2 more authors.
Development | Year: 2011

Within the vertebrate lineage, a high proportion of duplicate genes have been retained after whole genome duplication (WGD) events. It has been proposed that many of these duplicate genes became indispensable because the ancestral gene function was divided between them. In addition, novel functions may have evolved, owing to changes in cis-regulatory elements. Functional analysis of the PAX2/5/8 gene subfamily appears to support at least the first part of this hypothesis. The collective role of these genes has been widely retained, but sub-functions have been differentially partitioned between the genes in different vertebrates. Conserved non-coding elements (CNEs) represent an interesting and readily identifiable class of putative cisregulatory elements that have been conserved from fish to mammals, an evolutionary distance of 450 million years. Within the PAX2/5/8 gene subfamily, PAX2 is associated with the highest number of CNEs. An additional WGD experienced in the teleost lineage led to two copies of pax2, each of which retained a large proportion of these CNEs. Using a reporter gene assay in zebrafish embryos, we have exploited this rich collection of regulatory elements in order to determine whether duplicate CNEs have evolved different functions. Remarkably, we find that even highly conserved sequences exhibit more functional differences than similarities. We also discover that short flanking sequences can have a profound impact on CNE function. Therefore, if CNEs are to be used as candidate enhancers for transgenic studies or for multi-species comparative analyses, it is paramount that the CNEs are accurately delineated. © 2011. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Source

Sabado V.,Kings College London | Barraud P.,Anatomy Building | Baker C.V.H.,Anatomy Building | Streit A.,Kings College London
Developmental Biology | Year: 2012

A small population of neuroendocrine cells in the rostral hypothalamus and basal forebrain is the key regulator of vertebrate reproduction. They secrete gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH-1), communicate with many areas of the brain and integrate multiple inputs to control gonad maturation, puberty and sexual behavior. In humans, disruption of the GnRH-1 system leads to hypogonadotropic gonadism and Kallmann syndrome. Unlike other neurons in the central nervous system, GnRH-1 neurons arise in the periphery, however their embryonic origin is controversial, and the molecular mechanisms that control their initial specification are not clear. Here, we provide evidence that in chick GnRH-1 neurons originate in the olfactory placode, where they are specified shortly after olfactory sensory neurons. FGF signaling is required and sufficient to induce GnRH-1 neurons, while retinoic acid represses their formation. Both pathways regulate and antagonize each other and our results suggest that the timing of signaling is critical for normal GnRH-1 neuron formation. While Kallmann's syndrome has generally been attributed to a failure of GnRH-1 neuron migration due to impaired FGF signaling, our findings suggest that in at least some Kallmann patients these neurons may never be specified. In addition, this study highlights the intimate embryonic relationship between GnRH-1 neurons and their targets and modulators in the adult. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. Source

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