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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Jun 1;1475(1):99-108.

Alterations in titer and distribution of high mobility group proteins during embryonic development of Drosophila melanogaster.

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III. Zoologisches Institut-Entwicklungsbiologie, Universität Göttingen, D-37073, Göttingen, Germany.


High mobility group proteins are thought to have an architectural function in chromatin. Here we describe changes in titers, extent of phosphorylation, and cellular distribution of the three abundant HMG proteins during embryonic development of Drosophila. The titers of the HMG proteins HMGD, HMGZ, and D1 are highest in ovaries and at the beginning of embryonic development. They decrease continuously until cellularization of the embryo. Relative to the histone H1 titer, the levels of HMGD and D1 remain almost constant during gastrulation and organogenesis, whereas the titer of HMGZ increases during late organogenesis. Up to gastrulation, the development is accompanied by dephosphorylation of D1. In contrast, HMGD and HMGZ appear to be constitutively phosphorylated. As the high extent of phosphorylation of D1 is also characteristic in ovaries, it is likely that the posttranslational modifications of this protein observed in early embryonic stages are of maternal origin. Using site specific antibodies against helices I and III of HMGD and HMGZ and against the AT-hook motif of D1, protein-specific staining patterns have been observed during embryonic development. Despite high levels of HMG proteins at the beginning of embryonic development, we were unable to detect any of these proteins in nuclei of stage 2 embryos. The accumulation of the HMG proteins correlates with the onset of transcription in stage 3. Our results argue against a proposal of a shared role of HMGD and histone H1 in Drosophila chromatin.

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