Vogel, A.M. and Gerster, T. (1999) Promoter activity of the zebrafish bhikhari retroelement requires an intact activin signaling pathway. Mechanisms of Development. 85(1-2):133-146.
We have investigated mesoderm induction in zebrafish employing the zebrafish LTR-retroelement bhikhari (bik). bik elements are transcribed in all early mesendodermal cells. This expression pattern is generated by a promoter located in the U3 region of the LTR. We show that bik is activated through the activin/Vg1 signaling pathway in an immediate early fashion. This activation critically depends on a sequence motif that occurs among others also in the Xenopus Mix2 activin response element (ARE). It has been shown that the Mix2 ARE binds FAST- 1, which complexes with Smad proteins to form a multi-protein complex. We confirm that also the bik ARE can be bound by FAST-1 in vitro. In animal cap experiments we demonstrate that this binding site is required for activin-induced transcriptional activation mediated by FAST and Smad-type proteins.