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Genetic Analysis of Transvection Effects Involving Cis-Regulatory Elements of the Drosophila Ultrabithorax Gene

  • J. L. Micol
  • J. E. Castelli-Gair
  • A. Garcia-Bellido
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1990
  • Biology


The Ultrabithorax (Ubx) gene of Drosophila melanogaster contains two functionally distinguishable regions: the protein-coding Ubx transcription unit and, upstream of it, the transcribed but non-protein-coding bxd region. Numerous recessive, partial loss-of-function mutations which appear to be regulatory mutations map within the bxd region and within the introns of the Ubx transcription unit. In addition, mutations within the Ubx unit exons are known and most of these behave as null alleles. Ubx(1) is one such allele. We have confirmed that, although the Ubx(1) allele does not produce detectable Ubx proteins (UBX), it does retain other genetic functions detectable by their effects on the expression of a paired, homologous Ubx allele, i.e., by transvection. We have extended previous analyses made by E. B. Lewis by mapping the critical elements of the Ubx gene which participate in transvection effects. Our results show that the Ubx(1) allele retains wild-type functions whose effectiveness can be reduced (1) by additional cis mutations in the bxd region or in introns of the Ubx transcription unit, as well as (2) by rearrangements disturbing pairing between homologous Ubx genes. Our results suggest that those remnant functions in Ubx(1) are able to modulate the activity of the allele located in the homologous chromosome. We discuss the normal cis regulatory role of these functions involved in trans interactions between homologous Ubx genes, as well as the implications of our results for the current models on transvection.

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