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PLoS Genet. 2016 Jul 28;12(7):e1006200. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006200. eCollection 2016 Jul.

Formation of a Polycomb-Domain in the Absence of Strong Polycomb Response Elements.

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Program in Genomics of Differentiation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.


Polycomb group response elements (PREs) in Drosophila are DNA-elements that recruit Polycomb proteins (PcG) to chromatin and regulate gene expression. PREs are easily recognizable in the Drosophila genome as strong peaks of PcG-protein binding over discrete DNA fragments; many small but statistically significant PcG peaks are also observed in PcG domains. Surprisingly, in vivo deletion of the four characterized strong PREs from the PcG regulated invected-engrailed (inv-en) gene complex did not disrupt the formation of the H3K27me3 domain and did not affect inv-en expression in embryos or larvae suggesting the presence of redundant PcG recruitment mechanism. Further, the 3D-structure of the inv-en domain was only minimally altered by the deletion of the strong PREs. A reporter construct containing a 7.5kb en fragment that contains three weak peaks but no large PcG peaks forms an H3K27me3 domain and is PcG-regulated. Our data suggests a model for the recruitment of PcG-complexes to Drosophila genes via interactions with multiple, weak PREs spread throughout an H3K27me3 domain.

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