Vasanthi D, Nagabhushan A, Matharu NK, Mishra RK
Anterior-posterior body axis in all bilaterians is determined by the Hox gene clusters that are activated in a spatio-temporal order. This expression pattern of Hox genes is established and maintained by regulatory mechanisms that involve higher order chromatin structure and Polycomb group (PcG) and trithorax group (trxG) proteins. We identified earlier a Polycomb response element (PRE) in the mouse HoxD complex that is functionally conserved in flies. We analyzed the molecular and genetic interactions of mouse PRE using Drosophila melanogaster and vertebrate cell culture as the model systems. We demonstrate that the repressive activity of this PRE depends on PcG/trxG genes as well as the heterochromatin components. Our findings indicate that a wide range of factors interact with the HoxD PRE that can contribute to establishing the expression pattern of homeotic genes in the complex early during development and maintain that pattern at subsequent stages.