Ahmad and Henikoff, 2001, Cell 104(6): 839--847

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Ahmad and Henikoff, 2001, Cell 104(6): 839--847
FlyBase Identifier FBrf0135679
FlyBase URL http://flybase.org/reports/FBrf0135679.html
Publication Type paper
Publication Year 2001
PubMed ID 11290322
PubMed URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11290322

Title

Modulation of a transcription factor counteracts heterochromatic gene silencing in Drosophila.

Abstract

Variegation is a common feature of gene silencing phenomena, yet the basis for stochastic on/off expression is unknown. We used a conditional system that allows probing of heterochromatin at a reporter GFP gene by altering GAL4 transcription factor levels during Drosophila eye development. Surprisingly, the frequency of gene silencing is exquisitely sensitive to GAL4 levels, as though binding site occupancy affects the silenced state. The silent state is plastic, as spontaneous derepression occasionally occurs in both mitotically active and differentiating cells. By simultaneously assaying expression of a nearby gene, we further show that the size of an activated region within heterochromatin is small. We propose that variegation occurs because heterochromatin inhibits the transient exposure of factor binding sites.

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Gene(s) Dmel\w
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