Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)] is a DNA-binding protein that is the main intracellular transducer of the Notch signaling pathway in Drosophila. Several different mechanisms have been proposed to account for the activation of Su(H) by Notch. To further investigate how Su(H) activity is regulated we have used misexpression assays with wild-type Su(H) and with modified forms of Su(H) that contained a nuclear localization signal [Su(H)NLS], a transcriptional activation domain [Su(H)VP16], or a deletion of the domain required for interaction with the antagonist Hairless [Su(H)DeltaH]. Only Su(H)VP16 was able to mimic Notch activation effectively in the Drosophila wing, in agreement with the model that Notch activity normally confers coactivator function on Su(H). Neither nuclear localization nor elimination of Hairless binding was sufficient for activation. The phenotypes produced by overexpression of Su(H)wt and Su(H)NLS indicated a mixture of both increased and reduced Notch pathway activity and point to a role for Su(H) in both activation and repression of gene expression, as has been proposed for the mammalian homologue CBF1. Some phenotypes were equivalent to Notch loss-of-function, with wing-nicks and inhibition of a subset of target genes, which is most consistent with the ectopic proteins displacing a Su(H)-coactivator complex. Conversely, other phenotypes were equivalent to Notch gain-of-function, with wing-overgrowths and ectopic target-gene expression. These effects can be explained by the ectopic Su(H)/Su(H)NLS titrating a repressor complex. The wing-overgrowth phenotype is sensitive to the dose of Hairless and the phenotypes produced by coexpressing Su(H) and Hairless suggest that Hairless could form a component of this repressive complex.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.