Sequence-specific targeting of MSL complex regulates transcription of the roX RNA genes

EMBO J. 2004 Jul 21;23(14):2853-61. doi: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7600299. Epub 2004 Jul 1.


In Drosophila, dosage compensation is controlled by the male-specific lethal (MSL) complex consisting of at least five proteins and two noncoding RNAs, roX1 and roX2. The roX RNAs function in targeting MSL complex to the X chromosome, and roX transgenes can nucleate spreading of the MSL complex into flanking chromatin when inserted on an autosome. An MSL-binding site (DHS, DNaseI hypersensitive site) has been identified in each roX gene. Here, we investigate the functions of the DHS using transgenic deletion analyses and reporter assays. We find that MSL interaction with the DHS counteracts constitutive repression at roX1, resulting in male-specific expression of roX1 RNA. Surprisingly, the DHS is not required for initiation of cis spreading of MSL complex, instead local transcription of roX RNAs correlates with extensive spreading.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Lethal*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Insect Hormones
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • RNA
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Transgenes
  • X Chromosome / genetics
  • X Chromosome / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • Insect Proteins
  • Pabp2 protein, Drosophila
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • roX1 protein, Drosophila
  • RNA