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Genetics. 2019 Jun;212(2):489-508. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302165. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

The Role of Insulators in Transgene Transvection in Drosophila.

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Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Heraklion 70013, Crete, Greece.
Department of Biology, University of Crete, Heraklion 70013, Crete, Greece.
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Heraklion 70013, Crete, Greece


Transvection is the phenomenon where a transcriptional enhancer activates a promoter located on the homologous chromosome. It has been amply documented in Drosophila where homologs are closely paired in most, if not all, somatic nuclei, but it has been known to rarely occur in mammals as well. We have taken advantage of site-directed transgenesis to insert reporter constructs into the same genetic locus in Drosophila and have evaluated their ability to engage in transvection by testing many heterozygous combinations. We find that transvection requires the presence of an insulator element on both homologs. Homotypic trans-interactions between four different insulators can support transvection: the gypsy insulator (GI), Wari, Fab-8 and 1A2; GI and Fab-8 are more effective than Wari or 1A2 We show that, in the presence of insulators, transvection displays the characteristics that have been previously described: it requires homolog pairing, but can happen at any of several loci in the genome; a solitary enhancer confronted with an enhancerless reporter is sufficient to drive transcription; it is weaker than the action of the same enhancer-promoter pair in cis, and it is further suppressed by cis-promoter competition. Though necessary, the presence of homotypic insulators is not sufficient for transvection; their position, number and orientation matters. A single GI adjacent to both enhancer and promoter is the optimal configuration. The identity of enhancers and promoters in the vicinity of a trans-interacting insulator pair is also important, indicative of complex insulator-enhancer-promoter interactions.


Drosophila; E(spl); homolog pairing; insulators; locus; transvection

[Available on 2020-06-01]

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