Multiple classes of MSL binding sites target dosage compensation to the X chromosome of Drosophila

Curr Biol. 2004 Mar 23;14(6):481-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.03.004.


MSL complexes bind hundreds of sites along the single male X chromosome to achieve dosage compensation in Drosophila. Previously, we proposed that approximately 35 "high-affinity" or "chromatin entry" sites (CES) might nucleate spreading of MSL complexes in cis to paint the X chromosome. This was based on analysis of the first characterized sites roX1 and roX2. roX transgenes attract MSL complex to autosomal locations where it can spread long distances into flanking chromatin. roX1 and roX2 also produce noncoding RNA components of the complex. Here we identify a third site from the 18D10 region of the X chromosome. Like roX genes, 18D binds full and partial MSL complexes in vivo and encompasses a male-specific DNase I hypersensitive site (DHS). Unlike roX genes, the 510 bp 18D site is apparently not transcribed and shows high affinity for MSL complex and spreading only as a multimer. While mapping 18D, we discovered MSL binding to X cosmids that do not carry one of the approximately 35 high-affinity sites. Based on additional analyses of chromosomal transpositions, we conclude that spreading in cis from the roX genes or the approximately 35 originally proposed "entry sites" cannot be the sole mechanism for MSL targeting to the X chromosome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA Primers
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / metabolism
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Plasmids
  • Precipitin Tests
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Transgenes
  • X Chromosome / genetics
  • X Chromosome / metabolism*


  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Pabp2 protein, Drosophila
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • roX1 protein, Drosophila
  • Deoxyribonuclease I