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Mech Dev. 1998 Feb;71(1-2):177-86.

Activation of posterior pair-rule stripe expression in response to maternal caudal and zygotic knirps activities.

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Abteilung Molekulare Entwicklungsbiologie, Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, D-37070, Göttingen, Germany.


Drosophila pair-rule gene expression, in an array of seven evenly spaced stripes along the anterior-posterior axis of the blastoderm embryo, is controlled by distinct cis-acting stripe elements. In the anterior region, such elements mediate transcriptional activation in response to the maternal concentration gradient of the anterior determinant BICOID and repression by spatially distinct activities of zygotic gap genes. In the posterior region, activation of hairy stripe 6 has been shown to depend on the activity of the gap gene knirps, suggesting that posterior stripe expression is exclusively controlled by zygotic regulators. Here we show that the zygotic activation of hairy stripe 6 expression is preceded by activation in response to maternal caudal activity. Thus, transcriptional activation of posterior stripe expression is likely to be controlled by maternal and zygotic factors as has been observed for anterior stripes. The results suggest that activation and the expression level mediated by the hairy stripe 6-element depend on the number of activator binding sites, likely to involve additive rather than synergistic interactions. We found an identical transacting factor requirement for hairy stripe 6 and 7 expression. The arrangement of the corresponding binding sites for the common factors involved in the control of the two stripes share a high degree of similarity, but some of the factors exert opposite regulatory functions within the two enhancer elements.

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