Research ArticleGENETICS

Structure and function of an ectopic Polycomb chromatin domain

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Science Advances  09 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau9739
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9739


Polycomb group proteins (PcGs) drive target gene repression and form large chromatin domains. In Drosophila, DNA elements known as Polycomb group response elements (PREs) recruit PcGs to the DNA. We have shown that, within the invected-engrailed (inv-en) Polycomb domain, strong, constitutive PREs are dispensable for Polycomb domain structure and function. We suggest that the endogenous chromosomal location imparts stability to this Polycomb domain. To test this possibility, a 79-kb en transgene was inserted into other chromosomal locations. This transgene is functional and forms a Polycomb domain. The spreading of the H3K27me3 repressive mark, characteristic of PcG domains, varies depending on the chromatin context of the transgene. Unlike at the endogenous locus, deletion of the strong, constitutive PREs from the transgene leads to both loss- and gain-of function phenotypes, demonstrating the important role of these regulatory elements. Our data show that chromatin context plays an important role in Polycomb domain structure and function.

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