Intracellular Trafficking of the Nuclear Receptor COUP-TF in Live Sea Urchin Embryos1

Document Type


Publication Date



COUP-TFs comprise a family of highly conserved transcription factors within the steroid-thyroid-retinoic acid super-family of nuclear receptors. The high degree of conservation among the COUP-TFs suggests that their function among distantly related species might also be conserved. In order to give some insight into this question, we have tested the ability of human COUP-TF to mimic a specific sub-cellular localization pattern characteristic of endogenous SpCOUP-TF in early sea urchin embryos. Similarly, experiments were undertaken to determine if five conserved domains within COUP-TF could act as distinct entities, independent of the complete COUP-TF protein. Fusion constructs were created between the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and the entire human COUP-TF as well as various sub-domains of the sea urchin SpCOUP-TF. Intracellular trafficking of the fusion proteins in live embryos was monitored by confocal fluorescent microscopy. The results of this study suggest that, independent of intact COUP-TFs, the various domains tested are not by themselves sufficient for maintaining the correct subcellular localization pattern. The two intact transcription factors, although they belong to such evolutionarily distant animals, do demonstrate similar intracellular localization in the developing sea urchin embryos, indicating functional conservation between the COUP-TFs.


© 1999 by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Publication Title

Integrative and Comparative Biology (ICB)