MSL complex associates with clusters of actively transcribed genes along the Drosophila male X chromosome

Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2006;71:385-94. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2006.71.026.


Dosage compensation in Drosophila serves as a model system for understanding the targeting of chromatin-modifying complexes to their sites of action. The MSL (male-specific lethal) complex up-regulates transcription of the single male X chromosome, thereby equalizing levels of transcription of X-linked genes between the sexes. Recruitment of the MSL complex to its binding sites on the male X chromosome requires each of the MSL proteins and at least one of the two large noncoding roX RNAs. To better understand how the MSL complex specifically targets the X chromosome, we have defined the binding using high-resolution genomic tiling arrays. Our results indicate that the MSL complex largely associates with transcribed genes that are present in clusters along the X chromosome. We hypothesize that after initial recruitment of the MSL complex to the X chromosome by unknown mechanisms, nascent transcripts or chromatin marks associated with active transcription attract the MSL complex to its final targets. Defining MSL-complex-binding sites will provide a tool for understanding functions of large noncoding RNAs that have remained elusive.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Genes, Insect
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multigene Family
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • X Chromosome / genetics*
  • X Chromosome / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • msl-1 protein, Drosophila
  • msl-2 protein, Drosophila
  • msl-3 protein, Drosophila