Transient and transgenic analysis of the zebrafish ventricular myosin heavy chain (vmhc) promoter: An inhibitory mechanism of ventricle-specific gene expression

Ruilin Zhang, Xiaolei H Xu

13 Scopus citations


The zebrafish ventricular myosin heavy chain (vmhc) gene exhibits restricted expression in the ventricle. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this chamber-specific expression is unclear. Here, we exploited both transient and transgenic technologies to dissect the zebrafish vmhc promoter. We demonstrated that a combination of two transient assays in this animal model quickly identified chamber-specific cis-elements, isolating a 2.2 kb fragment upstream from the vmhc gene that can drive ventricle-specific expression. Furthermore, deletion analysis identified multiple cis-elements that exhibited cardiac-specific expression. To achieve chamber specificity, a distal element was required to coordinate with and suppress a proximal enhancer element. Finally, we discovered that Nkx2.5-binding sites (NKE) were essential for this repressive function. In summary, our study of the zebrafish vmhc promoter suggests that ventricle-specific expression is achieved through an inhibitory mechanism that suppresses expression in the atrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1564-1573
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009



  • Chamber specificity
  • Promoter analysis
  • Transgenic fish
  • Vmhc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology

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