Indexed on: 20 Oct '07Published on: 20 Oct '07Published in: Nucleic acids research
Expression of every gene is first regulated at the transcriptional level. While some genes show acute and discrete periods of expression others show a rather steady expression level throughout development. An example of the latter is Trithorax-like (Trl) a member of the Trithorax group that encodes GAGA factor in Drosophila. Among other functions, GAGA factor has been described to stimulate transcription of several genes, including some homeotic genes. Here we show that GAGA factor is continuously down-regulating the expression of its own promoter using a negative feedback mechanism in vivo. Like its expression, repression by GAGA factor is ubiquitous, prevents its accumulation, and takes place throughout development. Experimental alteration of GAGA factor dosage results in several unexpected phenotypes, not related to alteration of homeotic gene expression, but rather to functions that take place later during development and affect different morphogenetic processes. The results suggest that GAGA factor is essential during development, even after homeotic gene expression is established, and indicate the existence of an upper limit for GAGA factor dosage that should not be exceeded.