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Cell. 1995 Aug 25;82(4):587-97.

A Drosophila protein that imparts directionality on a chromatin insulator is an enhancer of position-effect variegation.

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Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


The suppressor of Hairy wing (su(Hw)) protein inhibits the function of transcriptional enhancers located distally from the promoter with respect to the location of su(Hw)-binding sites. This polarity is due to the ability of the su(Hw)-binding region to form a chromatin insulator. Mutations in modifier of mdg4 (mod(mdg4)) enhance the effect of su(Hw) by inhibiting the function of enhancers located on both sides of the su(Hw)-binding region. This inhibition results in a variegated expression pattern, and mutations in mod(mdg4) act as classical enhancers of position-effect variegation. The mod(mdg4) and su(Hw) proteins interact with each other. The mod(mdg4) protein controls the nature of the repressive effect of su(Hw): in the absence of mod(mdg4) protein, su(Hw) exerts a bidirectional silencing effect, whereas in the presence of mod(mdg4), the silencing effect is transformed into unidirectional repression.

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