Genome-wide tissue-specific occupancy of the hox protein ultrabithorax and hox cofactor homothorax in Drosophila

Matthew Slattery, Lijia Ma, Nicolas Négre, Kevin P. White, Richard S. Mann

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66 Scopus citations


The Hox genes are responsible for generating morphological diversity along the anterior-posterior axis during animal development. The Drosophila Hox gene Ultrabithorax (Ubx), for example, is required for specifying the identity of the third thoracic (T3) segment of the adult, which includes the dorsal haltere, an appendage required for flight, and the ventral T3 leg. Ubx mutants show homeotic transformations of the T3 leg towards the identity of the T2 leg and the haltere towards the wing. All Hox genes, including Ubx, encode homeodomain containing transcription factors, raising the question of what target genes Ubx regulates to generate these adult structures. To address this question, we carried out whole genome ChIP-chip studies to identify all of the Ubx bound regions in the haltere and T3 leg imaginal discs, which are the precursors to these adult structures. In addition, we used ChIP-chip to identify the sites bound by the Hox cofactor, Homothorax (Hth). In contrast to previous ChIP-chip studies carried out in Drosophila embryos, these binding studies reveal that there is a remarkable amount of tissue- and transcription factor-specific binding. Analyses of the putative target genes bound and regulated by these factors suggest that Ubx regulates many downstream transcription factors and developmental pathways in the haltere and T3 leg. Finally, we discovered additional DNA sequence motifs that in some cases are specific for individual data sets, arguing that Ubx and/or Hth work together with many regionally expressed transcription factors to execute their functions. Together, these data provide the first whole-genome analysis of the binding sites and target genes regulated by Ubx to specify the morphologies of the adult T3 segment of the fly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14686
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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