Trans regulation in the Ultrabithorax gene of Drosophila: alterations in the promoter enhance transvection

EMBO J. 1992 Oct;11(10):3645-52.


We report a genetic and molecular study of UbxMX6 and Ubx195rx1, two mutations in the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) locus which appear to have a strong effect on the activity of the homologous Ubx gene. These mutations show the characteristic embryonic and adult phenotypes of Ubx null alleles, and also fail to produce any detectable Ubx product. Yet, genetic and phenotypic analyses involving a large number of trans heterozygous combinations of UbxMX6 and Ubx195rx1 with different classes of Ubx mutations, indicate that they hyperactivate the homologous gene. This effect is induced on wildtype or mutant forms of Ubx, provided that the pairing in the bithorax region is normal, i.e. these mutations have a strong positive effect on transvection. We also show that, unlike all the other known cases of transvection in Ubx, this is not zeste-dependent. Southern analyses indicate that UbxMX6 is a 3.4 kb deletion, and Ubx195rx1 is an approximately 11 kb insertion of foreign DNA, both in the promoter region. We speculate that the region altered in the mutations may have a wildtype function to ensure cis-autonomy of the regulation of Ubx transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • Drosophila / drug effects
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Heterozygote
  • Larva
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Phenotype
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*


  • DNA
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate