Two paralogous znf143 genes in zebrafish encode transcriptional activator proteins with similar functions but expressed at different levels during early development.
Additional Document Info
BACKGROUND: ZNF143 is an important transcriptional regulator protein conserved in metazoans and estimated to bind over 2000 promoter regions of both messenger RNA and small nuclear RNA genes. The use of zebrafish is a useful model system to study vertebrate gene expression and development. Here we characterize znf143a, a novel paralog of znf143b, previously known simply as znf143 in zebrafish. This study reveals a comparison of quantitative and spatial expression patterns, transcriptional activity, and a knockdown analysis of both ZNF143 proteins. RESULTS: ZNF143a and ZNF143b have a fairly strong conservation with 65% amino acid sequence identity, and both are potent activators in transient transfection experiments. In situ hybridization analyses of both znf143 mRNAs show that these genes are expressed strongly in regions of the brain at 24h post fertilization in zebrafish development. A transient knockdown analysis of znf143 expression from either gene using CRISPR interference revealed similar morphological defects in brain development, and caused brain abnormalities in up to 50% of injected embryos. Although present in the same tissues, znf143a is expressed at a higher level in early development which might confer an evolutionary benefit for the maintenance of two paralogs in zebrafish. CONCLUSIONS: znf143a encodes a strong activator protein with high expression in neural tissues during early embryogenesis in zebrafish. Similar to its paralogous gene, znf143b, both znf143 genes are required for normal development in zebrafish.