An organizational hub of developmentally regulated chromatin loops in the Drosophila Antennapedia complex

Mo Li, Zhibo Ma, Jiayang K. Liu, Sharmila Roy, Sapna K. Patel, Derrick C. Lane, Haini N. Cai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Chromatin boundary elements (CBEs) are widely distributed in the genome and mediate formation of chromatin loops, but their roles in gene regulation remain poorly understood. The complex expression pattern of the Drosophila homeotic gene Sex combs reduced (Scr) is directed by an unusually long regulatory sequence harboring diverse cis elements and an intervening neighbor gene fushi tarazu (ftz). Here we report the presence of a multitude of CBEs in the Scr regulatory region. Selective and dynamic pairing among these CBEs mediates developmentally regulated chromatin loops. In particular, the SF1 boundary plays a central role in organizing two subsets of chromatin loops: one subset encloses ftz, limiting its access by the surrounding Scr enhancers and compartmentalizing distinct histone modifications, and the other subset subdivides the Scr regulatory sequences into independent enhancer access domains. We show that these CBEs exhibit diverse enhancer-blocking activities that vary in strength and tissue distribution. Tandem pairing of SF1 and SF2, two strong CBEs that flank the ftz domain, allows the distal enhancers to bypass their block in transgenic Drosophila, providing a mechanism for the endogenous Scr enhancer to circumvent the ftz domain. Our study demonstrates how an endogenous CBE network, centrally orchestrated by SF1, could remodel the genomic environment to facilitate gene regulation during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4018-4029
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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