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The spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression is essential to ensure robust phenotypic outcomes. Pigmentation patterns in Drosophila are determined by pigments biosynthesized in the developing epidermis and the cis-regulatory elements of the genes involved in this process are well-characterized. Here, we report that the known primary epidermal enhancer is dispensable for the transcriptional activation of ebony (involved in light-colored pigment synthesis) in the developing epidermis of Drosophila melanogaster. The evidence was obtained by introducing an approximately 1 kbp deletion at the primary epidermal enhancer by genome editing. The effect of the primary epidermal enhancer deletion on pigmentation and on the endogenous expression pattern of a mCherry-fused ebony allele was examined in the abdomen. The expression levels of the mCherry-fused ebony in the primary epidermal enhancer-deleted strains were slightly higher than that of the control strain, indicating that the sequences outside the primary epidermal enhancer have an ability to drive an expression of this gene in the epidermis. Interestingly, the primary epidermal enhancer deletion resulted in a derepression of this gene in the dorsal midline of the abdominal tergites, where dark pigmentation is present in the wild-type individuals. This indicated that the primary epidermal enhancer fragment contains a silencer. Furthermore, the endogenous expression pattern of ebony in the 2 additional strains with partially deleted primary epidermal enhancer revealed that the silencer resides within a 351-bp fragment in the 5' portion of the primary epidermal enhancer. These results demonstrated that deletion assays combined with reporter assays are highly effective in detecting the presence of positively and negatively regulating sequences within and outside the focal cis-regulatory elements. © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Genetics Society of America.


Noriyoshi Akiyama, Shoma Sato, Kentaro M Tanaka, Takaomi Sakai, Aya Takahashi. The role of the epidermis enhancer element in positive and negative transcriptional regulation of ebony in Drosophila melanogaster. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2022 Mar 04;12(3)

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PMID: 35100378

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