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Mol Cell Biol. Jun 1996; 16(6): 3106–3111.
PMCID: PMC231305

Sex-specific and non-sex-specific oligomerization domains in both of the doublesex transcription factors from Drosophila melanogaster.


The doublesex gene of Drosophila melanogaster encodes the alternatively spliced, sex-specific transcription factors DSXM and DSXF. These factors regulate male- and female-specific transcription of many genes. For example, female-specific transcription of the yolk protein 1 gene is regulated by DSXM repression in males and DSXF activation in females. In this study we used in vitro interaction assays and the in vivo yeast two-hybrid method to identify and examine oligomerization domains of the DSX proteins. A 66-amino-acid segment common to both proteins (amino acids 39 to 104) contains a sequence-specific DNA binding domain and an oligomerization domain (OD1). The OD1 domain oligomerizes up to at least a pentamer, but only dimers bound to a palindromic regulatory site in the yolk protein 1 gene are detected. Both subunits of the OD1 dimer are in contact with DNA. Another segment of each protein (amino acids 350 to 412 for DSXF and 350 to 427 for DSXM) contains a second oligomerization domain (OD2F and OD2M, respectively). The OD2 domains have both sex-specific and non-sex-specific sequences which are necessary for oligomerization. On the basis of sequence analysis, we predict that OD2 oligomerizes through coiled-coil interactions. We speculate that the common function of OD1 and OD2 is to oligomerize the full-length proteins, whereas their specialized functions are to form a dimeric DNA binding unit and a sex-specific transcriptional activation or repression unit.

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