Zhao, C., He, X., Tian, C., and Meng, A. (2006) Two GC-rich boxes in huC promoter play distinct roles in controlling its neuronal specific expression in zebrafish embryos. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 342(1):214-220.
HuC, a vertebrate ortholog of Drosophila elav gene, encodes an RNA binding protein and is involved in early neurogenesis. Zebrafish huC is expressed in distinct neurons, including Rohon-Beard (RB) sensory neurons, interneurons and motoneurons, during primary neurogenesis, and in all neurons later during secondary neurogenesis. In this study, we identify two GC-rich box elements, proximal GC (p-GC) box from -172 to -149 and distal GC (d-GC) box from -218 to -208, in zebrafish huC promoter. Using transgenic approach, we demonstrate that deletion of the p-GC box from the promoter results in loss of expression of the reporter GFP in neurons while deletion of the d-GC box leads to GFP expression only in dorsal RB sensory neurons. These results suggest that the p-GC box alone confers transcriptional activity of huC promoter in primary RB neurons and the d-GC is required for huC transcription in the full spectrum of spinal cord neurons. Further studies are needed to identify specific Sp1-like transcription factors that bind to these GC boxes and activate huC transcription.