1. Developmental Biology
  2. Chromosomes and Gene Expression
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H3K27 modifications define segmental regulatory domains in the Drosophila bithorax complex

  1. Sarah K Bowman
  2. Aimee M Deaton
  3. Heber Domingues
  4. Peggy I Wang
  5. Ruslan I Sadreyev
  6. Robert E Kingston  Is a corresponding author
  7. Welcome Bender
  1. Massachusetts General Hospital, United States
  2. Harvard Medical School, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 61
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Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e02833 doi: 10.7554/eLife.02833

Abstract

The bithorax complex (BX-C) in Drosophila melanogaster is a cluster of homeotic genes that determine body segment identity. Expression of these genes is governed by cis-regulatory domains, one for each parasegment. Stable repression of these domains depends on Polycomb Group (PcG) functions, which include trimethylation of lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3). To search for parasegment-specific signatures that reflect PcG function, chromatin from single parasegments was isolated and profiled. The H3K27me3 profiles across the BX-C in successive parasegments showed a 'stairstep' pattern that revealed sharp boundaries of the BX-C regulatory domains. Acetylated H3K27 was broadly enriched across active domains, in a pattern complementary to H3K27me3. The CCCTC-binding protein (CTCF) bound the borders between H3K27 modification domains; it was retained even in parasegments where adjacent domains lack H3K27me3. These findings provide a molecular definition of the homeotic domains, and implicate precisely positioned H3K27 modifications as a central determinant of segment identity.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Sarah K Bowman

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Aimee M Deaton

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Heber Domingues

    Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Peggy I Wang

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Ruslan I Sadreyev

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Robert E Kingston

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, United States
    For correspondence
    kingston@molbio.mgh.harvard.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Welcome Bender

    Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Danny Reinberg, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York University School of Medicine, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: March 23, 2014
  2. Accepted: July 30, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 31, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 21, 2014 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2014, Bowman et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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