Xbp1 and Brachyury establish an evolutionarily conserved subcircuit of the notochord gene regulatory network

Yushi Wu, Arun Devotta, Diana S. José-Edwards, Jamie E. Kugler, Lenny J. Negrón-Piñeiro, Karina Braslavskaya, Jermyn Addy, Jean Pierre Saint-Jeannet, Anna Di Gregorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gene regulatory networks coordinate the formation of organs and structures that compose the evolving body plans of different organisms. We are using a simple chordate model, the Ciona embryo, to investigate the essential gene regulatory network that orchestrates morphogenesis of the notochord, a structure necessary for the proper development of all chordate embryos. Although numerous transcription factors expressed in the notochord have been identified in different chordates, several of them remain to be positioned within a regulatory framework. Here, we focus on Xbp1, a transcription factor expressed during notochord formation in Ciona and other chordates. Through the identification of Xbp1-downstream notochord genes in Ciona, we found evidence of the early co-option of genes involved in the unfolded protein response to the notochord developmental program. We report the regulatory interplay between Xbp1 and Brachyury, and by extending these results to Xenopus, we show that Brachyury and Xbp1 form a cross-regulatory subcircuit of the notochord gene regulatory network that has been consolidated during chordate evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73992
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Animals
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Ciona intestinalis/genetics
  • Fetal Proteins/genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Morphogenesis/genetics
  • Notochord/metabolism
  • T-Box Domain Proteins/genetics
  • X-Box Binding Protein 1/genetics
  • Xenopus Proteins/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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