Herpin, A., Nakamura, S., Wagner, T.U., Tanaka, M., and Schartl, M. (2009) A highly conserved cis-regulatory motif directs differential gonadal synexpression of Dmrt1 transcripts during gonad development. Nucleic acids research. 37(5):1510-1520.
Differential gene expression largely accounts for the coordinated manifestation of the genetic programme underlying embryonic development and cell differentiation. The 3' untranslated region (3'-UTR) of eukaryotic genes can contain motifs involved in regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. In the 3'-UTR of dmrt1, a key gene that functions in gonad development and differentiation, an 11-bp protein-binding motif was identified that mediates gonad-specific mRNA localization during embryonic and larval development of fish. Mutations that disrupt the 11-bp motif leading to in vitro protein-binding loss and selective transcript stabilization failure indicate a role for this motif in RNA stabilization through protein binding. The sequence motif was found to be conserved in most of the dmrt1 homologous genes from flies to humans suggesting a widespread conservation of this specific mechanism.