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Nature. 2004 Oct 7;431(7009):653-9.

Direct integration of Hox and segmentation gene inputs during Drosophila development.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, 701 West 168th Street, HHSC 1104, New York, New York 10032, USA.


During Drosophila embryogenesis, segments, each with an anterior and posterior compartment, are generated by the segmentation genes while the Hox genes provide each segment with a unique identity. These two processes have been thought to occur independently. Here we show that abdominal Hox proteins work directly with two different segmentation proteins, Sloppy paired and Engrailed, to repress the Hox target gene Distalless in anterior and posterior compartments, respectively. These results suggest that segmentation proteins can function as Hox cofactors and reveal a previously unanticipated use of compartments for gene regulation by Hox proteins. Our results suggest that these two classes of proteins may collaborate to directly control gene expression at many downstream target genes.

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