Belting, H.G., Wendik, B., Lunde, K., Leichsenring, M., Mössner, R., Driever, W., and Onichtchouk, D. (2011) Pou5f1 contributes to dorsoventral patterning by positive regulation of vox and modulation of fgf8a expression. Developmental Biology. 356(2):323-36.
Pou5f1/Oct-4 in mice is required for maintenance of embryonic pluripotent cell populations. Zebrafish pou5f1 maternal–zygotic mutant embryos (spiel ohne grenzen; MZspg) lack endoderm and have gastrulation and dorsoventral patterning defects. A contribution of Pou5f1 to the control of bmp2b, bmp4 and vox expression has been suggested, however the mechanisms remained unclear and are investigated in detail here. Low-level overexpression of a Pou5f1-VP16 activator fusion protein can rescue dorsalization in MZspg mutants, indicating that Pou5f1 acts as a transcriptional activator during dorsoventral patterning. Overexpression of larger quantities of Pou5f1-VP16 can ventralize wild-type embryos, while overexpression of a Pou5f1-En repressor fusion protein can dorsalize embryos. Lack of Pou5f1 causes a transient upregulation of fgf8a expression after mid-blastula transition, providing a mechanism for delayed activation of bmp2b in MZspg embryos. Overexpression of the Pou5f1-En repressor induces fgf8, suggesting an indirect mechanism of Pou5f1 control of fgf8a expression. Transcription of vox is strongly activated by Pou5f1-VP16 even when translation of zygotically expressed transcripts is experimentally inhibited by cycloheximide. In contrast, bmp2b and bmp4 are not activated under these conditions. We show that Pou5f1 binds to phylogenetically conserved Oct/Pou5f1 sites in the vox promoter, both in vivo (ChIP) and in vitro. Our data reveals a set of direct and indirect interactions of Pou5f1 with the BMP dorsoventral patterning network that serve to fine-tune dorsoventral patterning mechanisms and coordinate patterning with developmental timing.