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A gene regulation network controlled by Celf1 protein–rbpj mRNA interaction in Xenopus somite segmentation
Marie Cibois, Carole Gautier-Courteille, Laurent Kodjabachian, Luc Paillard


Somite segmentation is impaired in Xenopus celf1 morphant embryos. The Celf1 RNA-binding protein targets bound mRNAs for rapid degradation, and antisense approaches demonstrated that segmentation defects in celf1 morphants were due to a derepression of rbpj mRNA. Rbpj protein is a key player of Notch signalling. Because segmentation involves complex cross-talk between several signalling pathways, we analysed how rbpj derepression impacted these pathways. We found that rbpj derepression stimulated the Notch pathway. Notch positively controlled the expression of cyp26a, which encodes a retinoic acid (RA)-degrading enzyme. Thus, rbpj derepression led to cyp26a overexpression and RA attenuation. It also repressed fgf8, consistent with an inhibition of FGF signalling. Pharmacological inhibition of the FGF pathway repressed cyp26a, but rbpj derepression was sufficient to restore cyp26a expression. Hence, while it was known that the FGF pathway antagonized RA signalling through expression of cyp26a, our results suggest that Rbpj mediates this antagonism. Furthermore, they show that the post-transcriptional repression exerted by Celf1 on rbpj mRNA is required to keep cyp26a expression under the control of FGF signalling. We conclude that rbpj repression by Celf1 is important to couple the FGF and RA pathways in Xenopus segmentation.


  • Competing interests The authors have no competing interests to declare.

  • Received May 30, 2013.
  • Accepted July 18, 2013.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.

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