Both basal and ontogenic promoter elements affect the timing and level of expression of a sea urchin H1 gene during early embryogenesis.

Z. C. Lai, R. Maxson, G. Childs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


Late histone H1-beta mRNA accumulates with the correct ontogenic pattern following microinjection of the cloned gene into fertilized sea urchin eggs. Sequences upstream of the gene encoding the sea urchin H1-beta protein contain both basal and developmentally regulated elements. One late H1-specific activator sequence (USE IV) is required for the accumulation of mRNA following the blastula stage of development. All late H1 genes also contain a highly conserved GC-rich sequence resembling a low-affinity binding site for the mammalian transcription factor Sp1 that is required for basal expression of the H1-beta gene at all stages of embryogenesis. When this GC-rich sequence (GGGCTG) is converted to a perfect core Sp1 sequence (GGGCGG), the H1-beta transcripts accumulate to much greater levels and their peak accumulation is shifted to the early blastula stage rather than late blastula and gastrula stages of development. Coincidently, early H1 genes, whose peak expression is also at the early blastula stage, all contain the same core consensus sequence (GGGCGG). Thus, both gene-specific activator sequences, as well as sequences that resemble sites for general transcription factors, may play a major role in determining the temporal patterns of gene expression during early embryogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalGenes & development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

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