Regulation of expression of Vg and establishment of the dorsoventral compartment boundary in the wing imaginal disc by Suppressor of Hairless

Dev Biol. 2006 Jan 1;289(1):77-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2005.10.008. Epub 2005 Nov 22.


The transcription factor Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) belongs to the CSL transcription factor family, which are the main transcriptional effectors of the Notch-signaling pathway. Su(H) is the only family member in the Drosophila genome and should therefore be the main transcriptional effector of the Notch pathway in this species. Despite this fact, in many developmental situations, the phenotype caused by loss of function of Su(H) is too weak for a factor that is supposed to mediate most or all aspects of Notch signaling. One example is the Su(H) mutant phenotype during the development of the wing, which is weaker in comparison to other genes required for Notch signaling. Another example is the complete absence of a phenotype upon loss of Su(H) function during the formation of the dorsoventral (D/V) compartment boundary, although the Notch pathway is required for this process. Recent work has shown that Su(H)/CBF1 has a second function as a transcriptional repressor, in the absence of the activity of the Notch pathway. As a repressor, Su(H) acts in a complex together with Hairless (H), which acts as a bridge to recruit the co-repressors Groucho and CtBP, and acts in a Notch-independent manner to prevent the transcription of target genes. This raises the possibility that a de-repression of target genes can occur in the case of loss if function of Su(H). Here, we show that the weak phenotype of Su(H) mutants during wing development and the absence of a phenotype during formation of the D/V compartment boundary are caused by the concomitant loss of the Notch-independent repressor function. This loss of the repressor function of Su(H) results in a de-repression of expression of target genes to a different degree in each process. Loss of Su(H) function during wing development results in a transient de-repression of expression of the selector gene vestigial (vg). We show that this residual expression of vg is responsible for the weaker mutant phenotype of Su(H) in the wing. During the formation of the D/V compartment boundary, de-repression of target genes seems to be sufficiently strong, to compensate the loss of Su(H) activity. Thus, de-repression of its target genes obscures the involvement of Su(H) in this process. Furthermore, we provide evidence that Dx does not signal in a Su(H)-independent manner as has been suggested previously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / growth & development*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Wings, Animal / growth & development*


  • DX protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Su(H) protein, Drosophila
  • vg protein, Drosophila