Distinct transcriptional regulation of Nanos2 in the germ line and soma by the Wnt and delta/notch pathways

Nathalie Oulhen, S. Zachary Swartz, Lingyu Wang, Athula Wikramanayake, Gary M. Wessel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Specification of the primordial germ cells (PGCs) is essential for sexually reproducing animals. Although the mechanisms of PGC specification are diverse between organisms, the RNA binding protein Nanos is consistently required in the germ line in all species tested. How Nanos is selectively expressed in the germ line, however, remains largely elusive. We report that in sea urchin embryos, the early expression of Nanos2 in the PGCs requires the maternal Wnt pathway. During gastrulation, however, Nanos2 expression expands into adjacent somatic mesodermal cells and this secondary Nanos expression instead requires Delta/Notch signaling through the forkhead family member FoxY. Each of these transcriptional regulators were tested by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis and found to directly interact with a DNA locus upstream of Nanos2. Given the conserved importance of Nanos in germ line specification, and the derived character of the micromeres and small micromeres in the sea urchin, we propose that the ancestral mechanism of Nanos2 expression in echinoderms was by induction in mesodermal cells during gastrulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Beta-catenin
  • ChIP
  • Delta/notch
  • FoxY
  • Germ line
  • Nanos
  • Sea urchin
  • Wnt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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