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Genes Dev. 2002 Apr 1;16(7):796-805.

A molecular link between gene-specific and chromosome-wide transcriptional repression.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720-3204, USA.


Gene-specific and chromosome-wide mechanisms of transcriptional regulation control development in multicellular organisms. SDC-2, the determinant of hermaphrodite fate in Caenorhabditis elegans, is a paradigm for both modes of regulation. SDC-2 represses transcription of X chromosomes to achieve dosage compensation, and it also represses the male sex-determination gene her-1 to elicit hermaphrodite differentiation. We show here that SDC-2 recruits the entire dosage compensation complex to her-1, directing this X-chromosome repression machinery to silence an individual, autosomal gene. Functional dissection of her-1 in vivo revealed DNA recognition elements required for SDC-2 binding, recruitment of the dosage compensation complex, and transcriptional repression. Elements within her-1 differed in location, sequence, and strength of repression, implying that the dosage compensation complex may regulate transcription along the X chromosome using diverse recognition elements that play distinct roles in repression.

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