The gastrula organizer forms in the dorsal region of the zebrafish embryo, where the bozozok/dharma homeobox gene down-regulates expression of the vega 1 transcriptional repressor. Here, we describe a novel Vega family homeobox gene, vega2. Expression of vega2 is initiated at the ventral blastoderm margin during blastula stages, and by gastrulation becomes complementary to but partially overlapping with the dorsal expression domain of the homeobox gene goosecoid (gsc). This dorsal exclusion of vega2 expression is not observed in bozozok mutants in which organizer formation is impaired. Both vega2 and vega 1 can physically interact with Gsc. Zebrafish embryos injected with vega2 mRNA failed to express gsc and developed a headless phenotype. Conversely, a putative dominant negative form of vega2, VP16-vega2, elicited the expansion of gsc expression and a dorsalized phenotype. We suggest that vega2, in cooperation with vega 1, functions as a negative regulator of organizer genes including gsc, and participates in the refinement of the gastrula organizer domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Bozozok/dharma
  • Goosecoid
  • Organizer formation
  • Vega


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