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J Mol Biol. 1998 Jan 30;275(4):561-74.

Cross-talking among Drosophila nuclear receptors at the promiscuous response element of the ng-1 and ng-2 intermolt genes.

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Dipartimento di Genetica, Biologia Generale e Molecolare Università di Napoli, Italia.


In Drosophila, peaks of the titer of the steroid hormone ecdysone act as molecular signals that trigger all the major developmental transitions occurring along the life cycle. The EcR/USP heterodimer, known to constitute the functional ecdysone receptor, binds with high affinity to specific target sequences, the ecdysone response elements (EcREs), whose repertoire still remains to be fully characterized at both the molecular and functional levels. In order to investigate the properties of EcREs composed of directly repeated half-sites (DRs), we have analysed the binding properties of the ng-EcRE, a DR element located within the coding region of ng-1 and ng-2, two highly homologous genes mapping at the ecdysone-regulated 3C intermolt puff. We report here that the ng-EcRE contacts the ecdysone receptor through its directly repeated half-sites spaced by 12 bp, and that this element may interact efficiently with at least three Drosophila orphan receptors, namely DHR38, DHR39 and beta FTZ-F1. Interestingly, DHR38 is bound alone or in combination with USP, providing the first evidence that the EcR-USP and DHR38-USP may directly compete for binding to a common response element. These results suggest that EcREs composed of widely spaced DRs may contribute to the establishment of extensive nuclear receptors cross-talking along the development, a mechanism that might play a relevant role in determining the temporal and spatial specificity of the ecdysone response. Finally, we show that the ng-EcRE can promote functional interactions in vitro as well as in vivo, acting as a transcriptional enhancer able to confer a specific developmental expression profile to a minimal promoter in transgenic flies.

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