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EMBO J. Apr 1993; 12(4): 1513–1522.
PMCID: PMC413364

Related chromosome binding sites for zeste, suppressors of zeste and Polycomb group proteins in Drosophila and their dependence on Enhancer of zeste function.


Polycomb group genes are necessary for maintaining homeotic genes repressed in appropriate parts of the body plan. Some of these genes, e.g. Psc, Su(z)2 and E(z), are also modifiers of the zeste-white interaction. The products of Psc and Su(z)2 were immunohistochemically detected at 80-90 sites on polytene chromosomes. The chromosomal binding sites of these two proteins were compared with those of zeste protein and two other Polycomb group proteins, Polycomb and polyhomeotic. The five proteins co-localize at a large number of sites, suggesting that they frequently act together on target genes. In larvae carrying a temperature sensitive mutation in another Polycomb group gene, E(z), the Su(z)2 and Psc products become dissociated from chromatin at non-permissive temperatures from most but not all sites, while the binding of the zeste protein is unaffected. The polytene chromosomes in these mutant larvae acquire a decondensed appearance, frequently losing characteristic constrictions. These results suggest that the binding of at least some Polycomb group proteins requires interactions with other members of the group and, although zeste can bind independently, its repressive effect on white involves the presence of at least some of the Polycomb group proteins.

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