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Sequence analysis of the cis-regulatory regions of the bithorax complex of Drosophila.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


The bithorax complex (BX-C) of Drosophila, one of two complexes that act as master regulators of the body plan of the fly, has now been entirely sequenced and comprises approximately 315,000 bp, only 1.4% of which codes for protein. Analysis of this sequence reveals significantly overrepresented DNA motifs of unknown, as well as known, functions in the non-protein-coding portion of the sequence. The following types of motifs in that portion are analyzed: (i) concatamers of mono-, di-, and trinucleotides; (ii) tightly clustered hexanucleotides (spaced < or = 5 bases apart); (iii) direct and reverse repeats longer than 20 bp; and (iv) a number of motifs known from biochemical studies to play a role in the regulation of the BX-C. The hexanucleotide AGATAC is remarkably overrepresented and is surmised to play a role in chromosome pairing. The positions of sites of highly overrepresented motifs are plotted for those that occur at more than five sites in the sequence, when < 0.5 case is expected. Expected values are based on a third-order Markov chain, which is the optimal order for representing the BXCALL sequence.

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