Identification of a multicopy chromatin boundary element at the borders of silenced chromosomal domains

Chromosoma. 2002 Feb;110(8):519-31. doi: 10.1007/s00412-001-0181-1.


The insulating properties required to delimit higher-order chromosomal domains have been shown to be shared by a variety of chromatin boundary elements (BEs). Boundary elements have been described in several species, from yeast to human, and we have previously reported the existence of a class of chromatin BEs in Drosophila melanogaster whose insulating activity requires the DNA-binding protein BEAF (boundary element-associated factor). Here we focus on the characterization of a moderately repeated 1.2 kb DNA sequence that encompasses boundary element 28 (BE28). We show that it directionally blocks enhancer/promoter communication in transgenic flies. This sequence contains a BEAF-binding sequence juxtaposed to an AT-rich sequence that harbors a strong nuclease-hypersensitive site. Using a combination of DNA-protein and protein blotting techniques, we found that this region is recognized by the A+T-binding D1 non-histone chromosomal protein of D. melanogaster, and we provide evidence that D1 and BEAF physically interact. In addition, the multicopy BE28 element maps to pericentric regions of the D. melanogaster 2L, 2R and X chromosome arms to which D1 has been shown to localize. In yeast, BEs that mark the periphery of silenced chromosomal domains have recently been shown to block the spreading of heterochromatin assembly. We propose that the BE28 repeat clusters could fulfill a similar function, acting as a local boundary between hetero- and euchromatin in a process involving interactions between the BEAF and D1 proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AT Rich Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Chromatin*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Gene Dosage*
  • Gene Silencing*
  • In Situ Hybridization


  • Chromatin