Evolutionary conservation of homeodomain-binding sites and other sequences upstream and within the major transcription unit of the Drosophila segmentation gene engrailed.

J. A. Kassis, C. Desplan, D. K. Wright, P. H. O'Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The engrailed (en) gene functions throughout Drosophila development and is expressed in a succession of intricate spatial patterns as development proceeds. Normal en function relies on an extremely large cis-acting regulatory region (70 kilobases). We are using evolutionary conservation to help identify en sequences important in regulating patterned expression. Sequence comparison of 2.6 kilobases upstream of the en coding region of D. melanogaster and D. virilis (estimated divergence time, 60 million years) showed that 30% of this DNA occurs in islands of near perfect sequence conservation. One of these conserved islands contains binding sites for homeodomain-containing proteins. It has been shown genetically that homeodomain-containing proteins regulate en expression. Our data suggested that this regulation may be direct. The remaining conserved islands may contain binding sites for other regulatory proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4304-4311
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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