Identification of shared transcriptional targets for the proneural bHLH factors Xath5 and XNeuroD

Mary A. Logan, Michael R. Steele, Terence J. Van Raay, Monica L. Vetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Proneural basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors are critical positive regulators of neuronal differentiation in a variety of species and are required for proper differentiation of various subtypes of neurons. Although bHLH factors demonstrate some unique functions during neural development, they share the ability to regulate neuronal differentiation, potentially by targeting overlapping sets of genes. To assess this, we performed a screen in ectoderm animal cap tissue to identify direct transcriptional targets shared by two Xenopus ato-related bHLH factors, Xath5 and XNeuroD. Candidate target genes identified in this screen include several transcriptional regulators (Xebf2, Xebf3, XETOR and NKL), an RNA binding protein (elrC), a cell cycle component (Xgadd45γ) and several novel genes. Overexpression of either Xath5 or XNeuroD induced ectopic in vivo expression of these candidate target genes. Conversely, blocking ato-related bHLH activity prevented endogenous nervous system expression of these genes. Therefore, we have identified a set of genes that can be regulated by multiple ato-related bHLH factors and may function as critical effectors of proneural bHLH-mediated differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-583
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 15 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Proneural
  • Target genes
  • bHLH transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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