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Visualization of Transvection in Living Drosophila Embryos

Lim, Bomyi, Heist, Tyler, Levine, Michael, Fukaya, Takashi
Molecular cell 2018 v.70 no.2 pp. 287-296.e6
Drosophila, alleles, chromosomes, reporter genes, transcription (genetics)
How remote enhancers interact with appropriate target genes persists as a central mystery in gene regulation. Here, we exploit the properties of transvection to explore enhancer-promoter communication between homologous chromosomes in living Drosophila embryos. We successfully visualized the activation of an MS2-tagged reporter gene by a defined developmental enhancer located in trans on the other homolog. This trans-homolog activation depends on insulator DNAs, which increase the stability—but not the frequency—of homolog pairing. A pair of heterotypic insulators failed to mediate transvection, raising the possibility that insulator specificity underlies the formation of chromosomal loop domains. Moreover, we found that a shared enhancer co-activates separate PP7 and MS2 reporter genes incis and intrans. Transvecting alleles weakly compete with one another, raising the possibility that they share a common pool of the transcription machinery. We propose that transvecting alleles form a trans-homolog “hub,” which serves as a scaffold for the accumulation of transcription complexes.