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Opposing Functions of the ETS Factor Family Define Shh Spatial Expression in Limb Buds and Underlie Polydactyly

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Laura A. Lettice
  • Iain Williamson
  • John H. Wiltshire
  • Silvia Peluso
  • Paul S. Devenney
  • Alison E. Hill
  • Abdelkader Essafi
  • James Hagman
  • Richard Mort
  • Graeme Grimes
  • Carlo L. DeAngelis
  • Robert E. Hill
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/02/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Developmental Cell
Issue number2
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)459-467
Publication statusPublished
Early online date13/02/12
Original languageEnglish


Sonic hedgehog (Shh) expression during limb development is crucial for specifying the identity and number of digits. The spatial pattern of Shh expression is restricted to a region called the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA), and this expression is controlled from a long distance by the cis-regulator ZRS. Here, members of two groups of ETS transcription factors are shown to act directly at the ZRS mediatinga differential effect on Shh, defining its spatial expression pattern. Occupancy at multiple GABPα/ETS1 sites regulates the position of the ZPA boundary, whereas ETV4/ETV5 binding restricts expression outside the ZPA. The ETS gene family is therefore attributed with specifying the boundaries of the classical ZPA. Two point mutations within the ZRS change the profile of ETS binding and activate Shh expression at an ectopic site in the limb bud. These molecular changes define a pathogenetic mechanism that leads to preaxial polydactyly (PPD). A long-range limb-specific enhancer controls Sonic hedgehog expression in a spatiotemporally restricted manner. Lettice etal. identify ETS-binding sites within this enhancer that mediate antagonistic interactions between different ETS transcription factor clades. Mutations in the enhancer that change the balance of power between ETS factors cause limb abnormalities.