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Mech Dev. 2004 May;121(5):449-62.

The Drosophila Polycomb group gene Sex combs extra encodes the ortholog of mammalian Ring1 proteins.

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Centro de Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa, CSIC-UAM Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.


In Drosophila, the Polycomb group (PcG) of genes is required for the maintenance of homeotic gene repression during development. Here, we have characterized the Drosophila ortholog of the products of the mammalian Ring1/Ring1A and Rnf2/Ring1B genes. We show that Drosophila Ring corresponds to the Sex combs extra (Sce), a previously described PcG gene. We find that Ring/Sce is expressed and required throughout development and that the extreme Pc embryonic phenotype due to the lack of maternal and zygotic Sce can be rescued by ectopic expression of Ring/Sce. This phenotypic rescue is also obtained by ectopic expression of the murine Ring1/Ring1A, suggesting a functional conservation of the proteins during evolution. In addition, we find that Ring/Sce binds to about 100 sites on polytene chromosomes, 70% of which overlap those of other PcG products such as Polycomb, Posterior sex combs and Polyhomeotic, and 30% of which are unique. We also show that Ring/Sce interacts directly with PcG proteins, as it occurs in mammals.

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