Single-base pair differences in a shared motif determine differential Rhodopsin expression

Jens Rister, Ansa Razzaq, Pamela Boodram, Nisha Desai, Cleopatra Tsanis, Hongtao Chen, David Jukam, Claude Desplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The final identity and functional properties of a neuron are specified by terminal differentiation genes, which are controlled by specific motifs in compact regulatory regions.To determine how these sequences integrate inputs from transcription factors that specify cell types, we compared the regulatory mechanism of Drosophila Rhodopsin genes that are expressed in subsets of photoreceptors to that of phototransduction genes that are expressed broadly, in all photoreceptors. Both sets of genes share an 11-base pair (bp) activator motif. Broadly expressed genes contain a palindromic version that mediates expression in all photoreceptors. In contrast, each Rhodopsin exhibits characteristic single-bp substitutions that break the symmetry of the palindrome and generate activator or repressor motifs critical for restricting expression to photoreceptor subsets. Sensory neuron subtypes can therefore evolve through single-bp changes in short regulatory motifs, allowing the discrimination of a wide spectrum of stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1258
Pages (from-to)1258-1261
Number of pages4
Issue number6265
StatePublished - Dec 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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