The zfh-2 gene product is a potential regulator of neuron-specific dopa decarboxylase gene expression in Drosophila

Dev Biol. 1992 Nov;154(1):84-94. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(92)90050-q.


We have studied a 40-bp upstream regulatory region of the DOPA decarboxylase gene (Ddc) which is important for cell-specific expression in the Drosophila central nervous system (CNS). This region contains two redundant elements which when simultaneously mutated result in lowered DDC expression in serotonin neurons. We uncovered a protein binding site within one of these elements and have cloned a factor which binds to the site. This factor is the product of the zfh-2 gene, a complex homeodomain/zinc finger protein previously identified by binding to an opsin regulatory element. The in vivo profile of ZFH-2 in the larval CNS shows intriguing overlap with DDC in specific serotonin and dopamine neurons. We show that ZFH-2 is related to a human transcription factor ATBF1. The multiple homeodomain and zinc finger motifs in these two proteins show a similar linear arrangement which implies coordinate action among the motifs. In addition, the homology defines a new homeodomain subtype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / metabolism
  • Dopa Decarboxylase / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Zinc Fingers


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Zfh2 protein, Drosophila
  • Serotonin
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Dopa Decarboxylase