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EMBO J. 1995 Oct 2;14(19):4773-80.

Heterodimeric Drosophila gap gene protein complexes acting as transcriptional repressors.

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Abteilung Molekulare Entwicklungsbiologie, Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, Göttingen, Germany.


The Drosophila gap gene Krüppel (Kr) encodes a transcriptional regulator. It acts both as an integral part of the Drosophila segmentation gene in the early blastoderm and in a variety of tissues and organs at later stages of embryogenesis. In transfected tissue culture cells, the Kr protein (Kr) was shown to both activate and repress gene expression in a concentration-dependent manner when acting from a single binding site close to the promoter. Here we show that KR can associate with the transcription factors encoded by the gap genes knirps (kni) and hunchback (hb) which affect KR-dependent gene expression in Drosophila tissue culture cells. The association of DNA-bound hb protein or free kni protein with distinct but different regions of KR results in the formation of DNA-bound transcriptional repressor complexes. Our results suggest that individual transcription factors can associate to form protein complexes which act as direct repressors of transcription. The interactions shown here add an unexpected level of complexity to the control of gene expression.

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