DEAF-1, a novel protein that binds an essential region in a Deformed response element

EMBO J. 1996 Apr 15;15(8):1961-70.


A 120 bp homeotic response element that is regulated specifically by Deformed in Drosophila embryos contains a single binding site for Deformed protein. However, a 24 bp sub-element containing this site does not constitute a Deformed response element. Specific activation requires a second region in the 120 bp element, which presumably contains one or more binding sites for Deformed cofactors. We have isolated a novel protein from Drosophila nuclear extracts which binds specifically to a site in this second region. This protein, which we call DEAF-1 (Deformed epidermal autoregulatory factor-1), contains three conserved domains. One of these includes a cysteine repeat motif that is similar to a motif found in Drosophila Nervy and the human MTG8 proto-oncoprotein, and another matches a region of Drosophila Trithorax. Mutations in the response element designed to improve binding to DEAF-1 in vitro resulted in increased embryonic expression. Conversely, small mutations designed to diminish binding to DEAF-1 resulted in reduced expression of the element. Thus, DEAF-1 is likely to contribute to the functional activity, and perhaps to the homeotic specificity, of this response element. Consistent with this hypothesis, we have discovered DEAF-1 binding sites in other Deformed response elements.

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
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Genes, Insect
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Protein Binding
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Dfd protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U46686