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VEGFA signaling controls physiological and pathological angiogenesis and hematopoiesis. Although many context-dependent signaling pathways downstream of VEGFA have been uncovered, vegfa transcriptional regulation in vivo remains unclear. Here, we show that the ETS transcription factor, Etv6, positively regulates vegfa expression during Xenopus blood stem cell development through multiple transcriptional inputs. In agreement with its established repressive functions, Etv6 directly inhibits expression of the repressor foxo3, to prevent Foxo3 from binding to and repressing the vegfa promoter. Etv6 also directly activates expression of the activator klf4; reflecting a genome-wide paucity in ETS-binding motifs in Etv6 genomic targets, Klf4 then recruits Etv6 to the vegfa promoter to activate its expression. These two mechanisms (double negative gate and feed-forward loop) are classic features of gene regulatory networks specifying cell fates. Thus, Etv6's dual function, as a transcriptional repressor and activator, controls a major signaling pathway involved in endothelial and blood development in vivo.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Animals, Embryo, Nonmammalian, Endothelium, Forkhead Box Protein O3, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Gene Regulatory Networks, Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors, Morpholinos, Oligonucleotides, Antisense, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets, Repressor Proteins, Signal Transduction, Somites, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A, Xenopus Proteins, Xenopus laevis