Functional dominance among Hox genes: repression dominates activation in the regulation of Dpp

Development. 1998 Dec;125(24):4949-57. doi: 10.1242/dev.125.24.4949.


Here we investigate the mechanisms by which Hox genes compete for the control of positional identity. Functional dominance is often observed where different Hox genes are co-expressed, and frequently the more posteriorly expressed Hox gene is the one that prevails, a phenomenon known as posterior prevalence. We use dpp674, a visceral mesoderm-specific enhancer of decapentaplegic (dpp), to investigate functional dominance among Hox genes molecularly. We find that posterior prevalence does not adequately describe the regulation of dpp by Hox genes. Instead, we find that abdominal-A (abd-A) dominates over the more posterior Abdominal-B (Abd-B) and the more anterior Ultrabithorax (Ubx). In the context of the dpp674 enhancer, abd-A functions as a repressor whereas Ubx and Abd-B function as activators. Thus, these results suggest that other cases of Hox competition and functional dominance may also be understood in terms of competition for target gene regulation in which repression dominates over activation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • DNA Footprinting
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / growth & development*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Genes, Homeobox / genetics*
  • Genes, Insect / genetics
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Transcriptional Activation / genetics


  • Abd-B proteins, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • dpp protein, Drosophila
  • abd-A protein, Drosophila