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Science. 1991 Jan 25;251(4992):426-30.

A genetic model for interaction of the homeodomain recognition helix with DNA.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


The Bicoid homeodomain protein controls anterior development in the Drosophila embryo by binding to DNA and regulating gene expression. With the use of genetic assays in yeast, the interaction between the Bicoid homeodomain and a series of mutated DNA sites was studied. These experiments defined important features of homeodomain binding sites, identified specific amino acid-base pair contacts, and suggested a model for interaction of the recognition alpha-helices of Bicoid and Antennapedia-class homeodomain proteins with DNA. The model is in general agreement with results of crystallographic and magnetic resonance studies, but differs in important details. It is likely that genetic studies of protein-DNA interaction will continue to complement conventional structural approaches.

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