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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

PHOX2B regulates its own expression by a transcriptional auto-regulatory mechanism.

The specification of neuronal identity is a result of interactions between the following two distinct classes of determinants: extrinsic factors that include secreted or cell membrane-associated signals in the local environment, and intrinsic factors that generally consist of ordered cascades of transcription factors. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying the interplay between these extrinsic and intrinsic factors and the transcriptional processes that establish and maintain a given neuronal phenotype. Phox2b is a vertebrate homeodomain transcription factor and a well established intrinsic factor in developing autonomic ganglia, where its expression is triggered by the bone morphogenic proteins secreted by the dorsal aorta. In this study we characterized its proximal 5'-regulatory region and found that it contained five putative DNA sites that potentially bind homeodomain proteins, including PHOX2B itself. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that PHOX2B could bind its own promoter in vivo, and electromobility gel shift assays confirmed that four of the five sites could be involved in PHOX2B binding. Functional experiments demonstrated that 65% of the transcriptional activity of the PHOX2B promoter in neuroblastoma cells depends on this auto-regulatory mechanism and that all four sites were required for full self-transactivation. Our data provide a possible molecular explanation for the maintenance of PHOX2B expression in developing ganglia, in which initially its expression is triggered by bone morphogenic proteins, but may become independent of external stimuli when it reaches a certain nuclear concentration and sustains its own transcription.[1]


  1. PHOX2B regulates its own expression by a transcriptional auto-regulatory mechanism. Cargnin, F., Flora, A., Di Lascio, S., Battaglioli, E., Longhi, R., Clementi, F., Fornasari, D. J. Biol. Chem. (2005) [Pubmed]
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