Physical and genetic interactions link hox function with diverse transcription factors and cell signaling proteins. Academic Article uri icon


  • Positional information provided by Hox homeotic transcription factors is integrated with other transcription factors and cell signaling cascades in specific combinations to dictate context- and gene-specific Hox activity. Protein-protein interactions between these groups have long been hypothesized to modulate Hox functions, yielding a context-specific function. However, difficulties in applying interaction screens to potent transcription factors have limited partner identification. A yeast two-hybrid screen using transcription activation-deficient mutants of the Drosophila melanogaster Hox protein Ultrabithorax IB identified an array of interacting proteins, consisting primarily of transcription factors and components of cell signaling pathways. Interactions were confirmed with wild-type Ultrabithorax (UBX) in phage display experiments and by immunoprecipitation for a subset of partners. In vivo assays demonstrated that two Ultrabithorax IB partners, Armadillo, regulated by Wingless/WNT signaling, and the homeodomain protein Aristaless, inhibit UBX-dependent haltere development from the default wing development pathway. Therefore, transcription factors and cell signaling proteins that subdivide Hox-specified tissues can both alter Hox function in vivo and interact with the corresponding Hox protein in vitro. UBX may also modulate partner function: the pupal death phenotype induced by ectopic expression of the UBX partner Hairy required the presence of UBX. Thus, Hox.transcription factor complexes may integrate a variety of positional cues, generating the specificity and versatility required for context-dependent Hox function.

published proceedings

  • Mol Cell Proteomics

author list (cited authors)

  • Bondos, S. E., Tan, X., & Matthews, K. S.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Bondos, Sarah E||Tan, Xin-Xing||Matthews, Kathleen S

publication date

  • May 2006