The protein repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor/neuron restrictive silencer factor (REST/NRSF) is a negative regulator of neuronal genes that contain a particular DNA sequence, the neuron restrictive silencer element (NRSE). REST is expressed ubiquitously in non-neural tissues but is down-regulated in neural precursors and turned off in postmitotic neurons, suggesting that it can act both to prevent extraneural expression of certain genes and to delay the differentiation of neuronal subtypes. In a recent paper, Chen et al. describe the production of a null mutant for REST in mice and the mosaic inactivation of REST function in chicken embryos. Knockout of REST led to malformations in several non-neural tissues, as well as apoptosis and embryonic lethality in mice. In addition, the expression of several REST target genes was depressed in non-neural tissues and in neural progenitors in both mouse and chicken embryos. These studies clearly demonstrate that active repression of tissue-specific genes is required for proper tissue differentiation during embryonic development.
|Number of pages||5|
|Publication status||Published - 17 May 1999|