How do Hox transcription factors find their target genes in the nucleus of living cells?

Gehring, Walter. (2011) How do Hox transcription factors find their target genes in the nucleus of living cells? Biologie Aujourd'hui, 205 (2). pp. 75-85.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/94074/

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Homeotic mutations first found in Drosophila led to the identification of Hox genes in all bilateria. These genes are exceptional in that they are arranged in an ordered cluster, in which they are positioned in the same order along the chromosome as they are expressed along the antero-posterior axis to specify the corresponding body regions. They share a highly conserved DNA sequence of 180 bp, the homeobox which encodes the homeodomain, a 60 amino acid polypeptide involved in specific DNA and RNA binding and in protein-protein interactions. The discovery of the homeobox has uncovered for the first time a universal principle of specification of the body plan along the antero-posterior axis. The structure of the homeodomain has been determined by NMR spectroscopy and by X-ray crystallography. However, the mechanism by which the Hox proteins find their target genes in the nucleus of a living cell has been enigmatic. Transcriptome analysis indicates that there are hundreds of target genes to be regulated, both positively and negatively to ensure normal development. In the following, we show by Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) and single molecule imaging in live salivary gland cells, that the mechanism of recognition is purely stochastic. The homeodomain associates and dissociates rapidly (in the ms range) with chromatin all along the chromosomes. If, however, it associates with a specific binding site in a puffed chromosome region, it remains bound for seconds or minutes to exert its function, by forming a complex with co-activators or co-repressors respectively. These direct measurements solve an old enigma of how Hox transcription factors find their target genes in the nucleus of live cells.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Biozentrum > Former Organization Units Biozentrum > Cell Biology (Gehring)
UniBasel Contributors:Gehring, Walter Jakob
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:23 Mar 2023 08:20
Deposited On:22 Mar 2023 15:09

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