Human Hox-4.2 and Drosophila deformed encode similar regulatory specificities in Drosophila embryos and larvae

Cell. 1990 Nov 30;63(5):969-76. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(90)90500-e.


Within the serial array of vertebrate homeobox genes in the Hox complexes, it is possible to define a subgroup that is structurally homologous to the Drosophila homeotic gene Deformed (Dfd). We wished to test whether a vertebrate Dfd-like protein could substitute for any of the regulatory functions of the Dfd protein in Drosophila embryos, including its ability to transcriptionally activate the Dfd transcription unit. A fusion gene consisting of a heat shock promoter attached to the human Hox-4.2 gene was introduced into the Drosophila genome, and its regulatory and developmental effects were assayed after heat shock. In developing embryonic and larval cells, we find that human Hox-4.2 specifically activates ectopic expression of the endogeneous Dfd transcription unit and phenocopies a dominant mutant allele of Dfd. Thus, human Hox-4.2 can specifically substitute for a normal regulatory function of its Drosophila homolog, Dfd.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Eye / embryology
  • Eye / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Larva
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dfd protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins