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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 9;105(36):13439-44. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806106105. Epub 2008 Aug 28.

Cross-regulatory protein-protein interactions between Hox and Pax transcription factors.

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  • 1Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Centre de Biologie du Developpement, 118 route de Narbonne, Bâtiment 4R3, 31062 Toulouse, France.


Homeotic Hox selector genes encode highly conserved transcriptional regulators involved in the differentiation of multicellular organisms. Ectopic expression of the Antennapedia (ANTP) homeodomain protein in Drosophila imaginal discs induces distinct phenotypes, including an antenna-to-leg transformation and eye reduction. We have proposed that the eye loss phenotype is a consequence of a negative posttranslational control mechanism because of direct protein-protein interactions between ANTP and Eyeless (EY). In the present work, we analyzed the effect of various ANTP homeodomain mutations for their interaction with EY and for head development. Contrasting with the eye loss phenotype, we provide evidence that the antenna-to-leg transformation involves ANTP DNA-binding activity. In a complementary genetic screen performed in yeast, we isolated mutations located in the N terminus of the ANTP homeodomain that inhibit direct interactions with EY without abolishing DNA binding in vitro and in vivo. In a bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay, we detected the ANTP-EY interaction in vivo, these interactions occurring through the paired domain and/or the homeodomain of EY. These results demonstrate that the homeodomain supports multiple molecular regulatory functions in addition to protein-DNA and protein-RNA interactions; it is also involved in protein-protein interactions.

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