Repression of the Hox gene abd-A by ELAV-mediated Transcriptional Interference.

  • publication
  • 16-11-2021

Castro Alvarez JJ, Revel M, Carrasco J, Cléard F, Pauli D, Hilgers V, Karch F, Maeda RK. PLoS Genet 2021 Nov;17(11):e1009843. 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009843. PGENETICS-D-21-00807.

Intergenic transcription is a common feature of eukaryotic genomes and performs important and diverse cellular functions. Here, we investigate the iab-8 ncRNA from the Drosophila Bithorax Complex and show that this RNA is able to repress the transcription of genes located at its 3' end by a sequence-independent, transcriptional interference mechanism. Although this RNA is expressed in the early epidermis and CNS, we find that its repressive activity is limited to the CNS, where, in wild-type embryos, it acts on the Hox gene, abd-A, located immediately downstream of it. The CNS specificity is achieved through a 3' extension of the transcript, mediated by the neuronal-specific, RNA-binding protein, ELAV. Loss of ELAV activity eliminates the 3' extension and results in the ectopic activation of abd-A. Thus, a tissue-specific change in the length of a ncRNA is used to generate a precise pattern of gene expression in a higher eukaryote.

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