LMX1A and LMX1B encode two closely related members of the LIM homeobox family of transcription factors. These genes play significant, and frequently overlapping, roles in the development of many structures in the nervous system, including the cerebellum, hindbrain, spinal cord roof plate, sensory systems and dopaminergic midbrain neurons. Little is known about the cis-acting regulatory elements (REs) that dictate their temporal and spatial expression or about the regulatory landscape surrounding them. The availability of comparative sequence data and the advent of genomic technologies such as ChIP-seq have revolutionized our capacity to identify regulatory sequences like enhancers. Despite this wealth of data, the vast majority of loci lack any significant in vivo functional exploration of their non-coding regions. We have completed a significant functional screen of conserved non-coding sequences (putative REs) scattered across these critical human loci, assaying the temporal and spatial control using zebrafish transgenesis. We first identify and describe the LMX1A paralogs lmx1a and lmx1a-like, comparing their expression during embryogenesis with that in mammals, along with lmx1ba and lmx1bb genes. Consistent with their prominent neuronal expression, 47/71 sequences selected within and flanking LMX1A and LMX1B exert spatial control of reporter expression in the central nervous system (CNS) of mosaic zebrafish embryos. Upon germline transmission, we identify CNS reporter expression in multiple independent founders for 22 constructs (LMX1A, n = 17; LMX1B, n = 5). The identified enhancers display significant overlap in their spatial control and represent only a fraction of the conserved non-coding sequences at these critical genes. Our data reveal the abundance of regulatory instruction located near these developmentally important genes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology