Both ciliary and non-ciliary functions of Foxj1a confer Wnt/β-catenin signaling in zebrafish left-right patterning

Ping Zhu, Xiaolei Xu, Xueying Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The Wnt/β-catenin pathway is implicated in left-right (LR) axis determination; however, the underlying mechanism remains elusive. Prompted by our recent discovery that Wnt signaling regulates ciliogenesis in the zebrafish Kupffer's vesicle (KV) via Foxj1a, a ciliogenic transcription factor, we decided to elucidate functions of Foxj1a in Wnt-regulated LR pattern formation. We showed that targeted injection of wnt8a mRNA into a single cell at the 128-cell stage is sufficient to induce ectopic foxj1a expression and ectopic cilia. By interrogating the transcription circuit of foxj1a regulation, we found that both Lef1 and Tcf7 bind to a consensus element in the foxj1a promoter region. Depletion of Lef1 and Tcf7 inhibits foxj1a transcription in the dorsal forerunner cells, downregulates cilia length and number in KV, and randomizes LR asymmetry. Targeted overexpression of a constitutively active form of Lef1 also induced an ectopic protrusion that contains ectopic transcripts for sox17, foxj1a, and charon, and ectopic monocilia. Further genetic studies using this ectopic expression platform revealed two distinct functions of Foxj1a; mediating Wnt-governed monocilia length elongation as well as charon transcription. The novel Foxj1a-charon regulation is conserved in KV, and importantly, it is independent of the canonical role of Foxj1a in the biosynthesis of motile cilia. Together with the known function of motile cilia movement in generating asymmetric expression of charon, our data put forward a hypothesis that Foxj1a confers both ciliary and non-ciliary functions of Wnt signaling, which converge on charon to regulate LR pattern formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1376-1386
Number of pages11
JournalBiology Open
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2015


  • Charon
  • Ciliogenesis
  • Foxj1a
  • Wnt/β-catenin signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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