Active repression of transcription by the engrailed homeodomain protein

EMBO J. 1991 Jun;10(6):1427-33.


The Drosophila engrailed gene product (En) is a homeodomain-containing protein that contributes to segmental patterning. In transfection assays it acts as a transcriptional repressor. We show that En is an active repressor, blocking activation by mammalian and yeast activators that bind to sites some distance away from those bound by En. Active repression is distinct from the effects of passive homeodomain-containing proteins, which repress when competing with activators for binding sites and activate when competing with En. Active repression activity maps outside the En homeodomain, and this activity can be transferred to a heterologous DNA binding domain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Insect Hormones / genetics*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • En protein, Drosophila
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors