Direct integration of Hox and segmentation gene inputs during Drosophila development


During Drosophila embryogenesis, segments, each with an anterior and posterior compartment, are generated by the segmentation genes while the Hox genes provide each segment with a unique identity. These two processes have been thought to occur independently. Here we show that abdominal Hox proteins work directly with two different segmentation proteins, Sloppy paired and Engrailed, to repress the Hox target gene Distalless in anterior and posterior compartments, respectively. These results suggest that segmentation proteins can function as Hox cofactors and reveal a previously unanticipated use of compartments for gene regulation by Hox proteins. Our results suggest that these two classes of proteins may collaborate to directly control gene expression at many downstream target genes.

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Figure 1: Compartment-specific repression mediated by the DMX-R.
Figure 2: Assembly of a core Hox/Exd/Hth/Hox complex on the DMX-R.
Figure 3: A model for DMX-R-mediated repression of Dll.
Figure 4: En and Slp bind to DMX-R.
Figure 5: Dll is repressed by Hox and segmentation gene inputs.


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We thank K. Cadigan, J. Jaynes, H. Krause, J. Reinitz, C. Schwartz, S. Small, G. Struhl and the Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank, University of Iowa, for reagents; W. Zhang for technical help; and R. Axel, J. Culi, J. Dasen, O. Hobert, T. Jessell, L. Johnston and G. Struhl for critically reading and commenting on the manuscript. This work was supported by an NIH grant to R.S.M.

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Correspondence to Richard S. Mann.

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Gebelein, B., McKay, D. & Mann, R. Direct integration of Hox and segmentation gene inputs during Drosophila development. Nature 431, 653–659 (2004).

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