RNA-Seq identifies SPGs as a ventral skeletal patterning cue in sea urchins

Michael L. Piacentino, Daniel T. Zuch, Julie Fishman, Sviatlana Rose, Emily E. Speranza, Christy Li, Jia Yu, Oliver Chung, Janani Ramachandran, Patrick Ferrell, Vijeta Patel, Arlene Reyna, Hajerah Hameeduddin, James Chaves, Finnegan B. Hewitt, Evan Bardot, David Lee, Amanda B. Core, John D. Hogan, Jessica L. KeenanLingqi Luo, Jasmin Coulombe-Huntington, Todd A. Blute, Ekaterina Oleinik, Jonas Ibn-Salem, Albert J. Poustka, Cynthia A. Bradham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sea urchin larval skeleton offers a simple model for formation of developmental patterns. The calcium carbonate skeleton is secreted by primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) in response to largely unknown patterning cues expressed by the ectoderm. To discover novel ectodermal cues, we performed an unbiased RNA-Seq-based screen and functionally tested candidates; we thereby identified several novel skeletal patterning cues. Among these, we show that SLC26a2/7 is a ventrally expressed sulfate transporter that promotes a ventral accumulation of sulfated proteoglycans, which is required for ventral PMC positioning and skeletal patterning. We show that the effects of SLC perturbation are mimicked by manipulation of either external sulfate levels or proteoglycan sulfation. These results identify novel skeletal patterning genes and demonstrate that ventral proteoglycan sulfation serves as a positional cue for sea urchin skeletal patterning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-714
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Patterning
  • RNA-Seq
  • Skeleton
  • Sulfated proteoglycan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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