Lineage-independent mosaic expression and regulation of the Ciona multidom gene in the ancestral notochord

Izumi Oda-Ishii, Anna Di Gregorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transcription factor Ciona Brachyury (Ci-Bra) plays an essential role in notochord development in the ascidian Ciona intestinalis. We characterized a putative Ci-Bra target gene, which we named Ci-multidom, and analyzed in detail its expression pattern in normal embryos and in embryos where Ci-Bra was misexpressed. Ci-multidom encodes a novel protein, which contains eight CCP domains and a partial VWFA domain. We show that an EGFP-multidom fusion protein localizes preferentially to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and is excluded from the nucleus. In situ hybridization experiments demonstrate that Ci-multidom is expressed in the notochord and in the anterior neural boundary (ANB). We found that the expression in the ANB is fully recapitulated by an enhancer element located upstream of Ci-multidom. By means of misexpression experiments, we provide evidence that Ci-Bra controls transcription of Ci-multidom in the notochord; however, while Ci-Bra is homogeneously expressed throughout this structure, Ci-multidom is transcribed at detectable levels only in a random subset of notochord cells. The number of notochord cells expressing Ci-multidom varies among different embryos and is independent of developmental stage, lineage, and position along the anterior-posterior axis. These results suggest that despite its morphological simplicity and invariant cell-lineage, the ancestral notochord is a mosaic of cells in which the gene cascade downstream of Brachyury is differentially modulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1806-1819
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Ascidian
  • Brachyury
  • CCP domain
  • Ciona
  • Notochord
  • Transcription
  • VWFA domain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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