Functional characterization of the ZEB2 regulatory landscape

Reut Bar Yaacov, Reut Eshel, Einan Farhi, Fania Shemuluvich, Tommy Kaplan, Ramon Y. Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 2 (ZEB2) is a key developmental regulator of the central nervous system (CNS). Although the transcriptional regulation of ZEB2 is essential for CNS development, the elements that regulate ZEB2 expression have yet to be identified. Here, we identified a proximal regulatory region of ZEB2 and characterized transcriptional enhancers during neuronal development. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing for active (H3K27ac) and repressed (H3K27me3) chromatin regions in human neuronal progenitors, combined with an in vivo zebrafish enhancer assay, we functionally characterized 18 candidate enhancers in the ZEB2 locus. Eight enhancers drove expression patterns that were specific to distinct mid/hindbrain regions (ZEB2#e3 and 5), trigeminal-like ganglia (ZEB2#e6 and 7), notochord (ZEB2#e2, 4 and 12) and whole brain (ZEB2#e14). We further dissected the minimal sequences that drive enhancer-specific activity in the mid/hindbrain and notochord. Using a reporter assay in human cells, we showed an increased activity of the minimal notochord enhancer ZEB2#e2 in response to AP-1 and DLX1/2 expressions, while repressed activity of this enhancer was seen in response to ZEB2 and TFAP2 expressions. We showed that Dlx1 but not Zeb2 and Tfap2 occupies Zeb2#e2 enhancer sequence in the mouse notochord at embryonic day 11.5. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, we deleted the ZEB2#e2 region, leading to reduction of ZEB2 expression in human cells. We thus characterized distal transcriptional enhancers and trans-acting elements that govern regulation of ZEB2 expression during neuronal development. These findings pave the path toward future analysis of the role of ZEB2 regulatory elements in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Mowat-Wilson syndrome.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1487-1497
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press.


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