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Dev Biol. 2003 Sep 15;261(2):426-42.

Identification and characterization of polyhomeotic PREs and TREs.

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Institut de Génétique Humaine, C.N.R.S.-U.P.R. 1142, 141 rue de la Cardonille, 34396 5, Montpellier Cedex, France.


The polyhomeotic (ph) gene is a member of the Polycomb group of genes (Pc-G), which are required for the maintenance of the spatial expression pattern of homeotic genes. In contrast to homeotic genes, ph is ubiquitously expressed and it is quantitatively regulated. ph is negatively regulated by the Pc-G genes, except Psc, and positively regulated by the antagonist trithorax group of genes (trx-G), suggesting that Pc-G and trx-G response elements (PREs and TREs) exist at the ph locus. In this study, we have functionally characterized PREs and TREs at the ph locus that function in transgenic constructs. We have identified a strong PRE and TRE in the ph proximal unit as well as a weak one in the ph distal unit. The PRE/TRE of both ph units appear atypical compared with the well-defined homeotic maintenance elements because the minimal ph proximal response element activity requires at least 2 kb of sequence and does not work at long range. We have used chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments on cultured cells and embryos to show that Pc-G proteins are located in restricted regions, close to the ph promoters that overlap functionally defined PRE/TREs. Our data suggest that ph PRE/TREs are cis-acting DNA elements that modulate rather than silence Pc-G- and trx-G-mediated regulation, enlarging the role of these two groups of genes in transcriptional regulation.

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