Similar to Drosophila, murine Polycomb-group (PcG) genes regulate anterior-posterior patterning of segmented axial structures by transcriptional repression of homeotic gene expression. The murine PcG gene eed (embryonic ectoderm development) encodes a 441-amino-acid protein with five WD motifs which, except for the amino terminus, is highly homologous to Drosophila ESC (Extra Sex Combs). Here, sequence and expression analysis as well as chromosomal mapping of the human orthologue of eed is described. Absolute conservation of the human eed protein along with significant divergence at the nucleotide level reveals functional constraints operating on all residues. The human orthologue appears to be ubiquitously expressed and maps to chromsome 11q14.2-q22.3. Using the first WD motif of the beta-subunit of the bovine G protein as a structural reference, the predicted locations of two previously identified eed point mutations (A. Schumacher et al., 1996, Nature 383: 250-253) are also reported herein. The proline substitution (L196P) in the second WD motif of the l7Rn5(3354SB) null allele maps to the internal core of the inner end of the beta-propeller blade and is likely to disrupt protein folding. In contrast, the asparagine substitution (I193N) in the second WD motif of the hypomorphic l7Rn5(1989SB) allele maps onto the surface of the beta-propeller blade near the central cavity and may affect surface interactions without compromising propeller packing. These results illustrate the critical importance of all residues for eed function in mammals and support a model whereby the amino terminus might implement function(s) related to embryonic development in higher organisms.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.