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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 July; 16(7): 3381–3392.
PMCID: PMC231332

The DNA-binding and enhancer-blocking domains of the Drosophila suppressor of Hairy-wing protein.


Mutations in the suppressor of Hairy-wing [su(Hw)] gene of Drosophila melanogaster can cause female sterility and suppress mutations that are insertions of the gypsy retrotransposon. Gypsy binds the protein (SUHW) encoded by su(Hw), and SUHW prevents enhancers promoter-distal to gypsy from activating gene transcription. SUHW contains 12 zinc fingers flanked by acidic N- and C-terminal domains. We examined the roles of each of the 12 zinc fingers in binding gypsy DNA and classified them into four groups: essential (fingers 6 through 10); beneficial but nonessential (fingers 1, 2, 3, and 11); unimportant (fingers 5 and 12); and inhibitory (finger 4). Because finger 10 is not required for female fertility but is essential for binding gypsy, these results imply that the SUHW-binding sites required for oogenesis differ in sequence from the gypsy-binding sites. We also examined the functions of the N- and C-terminal domains of SUHW by determining the ability of various deletion mutants to support female fertility and to alter expression of gypsy insertion alleles of the yellow, cut, forked, and Ultrabithorax genes. No individual segment of the N- and C-terminal domains of SUHW is absolutely required to alter expression of gypsy insertion alleles. However, the most important domain lies between residues 737 and 880 in the C-terminal domain. This region also contains the residues required for female fertility, and the fertility domain may be congruent with the enhancer-blocking domain. These results imply that SUHW blocks different enhancers and supports oogenesis by the same or closely related molecular mechanisms.

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Selected References

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