Meeting Abstract

P2.66  Thursday, Jan. 5  Investigation of the cis-regulation of the FoxB Gene in Nematostella vectensis PERRY, KL*; RAMIREZ, A; BROWNE, WE; University of Miami, Coral Gables; University of Miami, Coral Gables; University of Miami, Coral Gables k.perry3@umiami.edu

The process of establishing and maintaining discrete cell fates is essential to the proper development of multicellular organisms. The basic mechanisms controlling the development of neuronal cell fates arose early in Metazoan evolution. Yet little is known about the cis-regulation of gene expression during neurogenesis in early diverging lineages of Metazoans such as the cnidarian Nematostella vectenesis (Nv). Nematostella possesses a simple radially organized body plan in which the nervous system develops as a diffuse nerve net with regionally organized pharyngeal and oral nerve rings. The Forkhead (Fox) gene family is known to play an important role in regulating neural cell fates. The NvFoxB gene is expressed at the oral pole of the pharyngeal ectoderm, suggesting a role in regulating neural cell fates in the developing pharyngeal nerve ring. Here we characterize aspects of NvFoxB cis-regulation during neurogenesis in developing embryos and polyps by in vivo time-lapse microscopy. Our preliminary expression data from a 3.5kb region of upstream genomic DNA driving an orange fluorescent protein (OFP) gene confirm that this genomic region contains sufficient regulatory information to drive restricted OFP expression in Nematostella. We are manipulating our construct to define a minimal promoter required to drive OFP expression in a distinct set of neurons in the pharynx. These results, along with other experiments, will provide key information required to elucidate the basic structure and mechanism of action for cis-regulatory sequences during neural development in Nematostella. We are also gaining useful tools for exploring gene function. These regulatory sequences can be used to drive genes of interest in discrete cell populations at defined times during development in Nematostella.