zeste, a nonessential gene, potently activates Ultrabithorax transcription in the Drosophila embryo

Jeffrey D. Laney, Mark D. Biggin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The GAGA, NTF-1, and zeste proteins have been purified previously from Drosophila embryo extracts and shown to activate the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) promoter in vitro. Here, differently mutated Ubx promoter constructs containing binding sites for none, one, or all three of these transcription factors have been introduced into Drosophila by P-element transformation. Binding sites for each factor activate dramatically different patterns of transcription. In zeste mutant embryos, the activation by zeste protein-binding sites is essentially abolished. These genetic data, when considered with our earlier biochemical experiments, demonstrate that zeste directly and potently activates Ubx transcription in vivo. Surprisingly, previous genetic experiments indicate that zeste is a nonessential gene shown only to act in a dispensable regulatory process termed transvection. In our transgenic experiments, zeste is not activating transcription by transvection. We propose that the function of zeste in Drosophila is much broader than assumed previously, and that it is a member of a redundant system of transcription factors that regulate and maintain the expression of Ubx and other Drosophila genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1541
Number of pages11
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila
  • Redundancy
  • Transcription nonessential gene
  • Ultrabithorax
  • Zeste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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