RNA binding and translational suppression by bicoid

Nature. 1996 Feb 22;379(6567):746-9. doi: 10.1038/379746a0.


The anterior determinant bicoid (bcd) of Drosophila is a homeodomain protein. It forms an anterior-to-posterior gradient in the embryo and activates, in a concentration-dependent manner, several zygotic segmentation genes during blastoderm formation. Its posterior counterpart, the homeodomain transcription factor caudal (cad), forms a concentration gradient in the opposite direction, emanating from evenly distributed messenger RNA in the egg. In embryos lacking bcd activity as a result of mutation, the cad gradient fails to form and cad becomes evenly distributed throughout the embryo. This suggests that bcd may act in the region-specific control of cad mRNA translation. Here we report that bcd binds through its homeodomain to cad mRNA in vitro, and exerts translational control through a bcd-binding region of cad mRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA Primers
  • Diptera
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insect Hormones / genetics
  • Insect Hormones / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transfection


  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • bcd protein, Drosophila
  • cad protein, Drosophila