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Cell. 2005 Jul 29;122(2):151-3.

Powered by gas--a ligand for a fruit fly nuclear receptor.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


The difficulty in identifying ligands for nuclear hormone receptors remains an obstacle to understanding their function. For example, in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, only one of its nuclear receptors has a known ligand. In this issue of Cell, report that the fruit fly E75 nuclear receptor contains heme in its ligand binding pocket and that the oxidation state of this molecule controls E75 activity. They also show that E75-heme responds to the small diatomic gases, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. This study sheds light on how heme, gas signaling, and nuclear receptors interact to control metabolic and developmental pathways.

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