Brachyury, a T-box transcription factor, is expressed in ascidian embryos exclusively in primordial notochord cells and plays a pivotal role in differentiation of notochord cells. Previously, we identified ∼450 genes downstream of Ciona intestinalis Brachyury (Ci-Bra), and characterized the expression profiles of 45 of these in differentiating notochord cells. In this study, we looked for cisregulatory sequences in minimal enhancers of 20 Ci-Bra downstream genes by electroporating region within ∼3 kb upstream of each gene fused with lacZ. Eight of the 20 reporters were expressed in notochord cells. The minimal enchancer for each of these eight genes was narrowed to a region ∼0.51.0-kb long. We also explored the genome-wide and coordinate regulation of 43 Ci-Bra-downstream genes. When we determined their chromosomal localization, it became evident that they are not clustered in a given region of the genome, but rather distributed evenly over 13 of the 14 pairs of chromosomes, suggesting that gene clustering does not contribute to coordinate control of the Ci-Bra downstream gene expression. Our results might provide Insights Into the molecular mechanisms underlying notochord formation in chordates.
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