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The Additional sex combs (Asx) gene of Drosophila is a member of the Polycomb group of genes, which are required for maintenance of stable repression of homeotic and other loci. Asx is unusual among the Polycomb group because: (1) one Asx allele exhibits both anterior and posterior transformations; (2) Asx mutations enhance anterior transformations of trx mutations; (3) Asx mutations exhibit segmentation phenotypes in addition to homeotic phenotypes; (4) Asx is an Enhancer of position-effect variegation and (5) Asx displays tissue-specific derepression of target genes. Asx was cloned by transposon tagging and encodes a protein of 1668 amino acids containing an unusual cysteine cluster at the carboxy terminus. The protein is ubiquitously expressed during development. We show that Asx is required in the central nervous system to regulate Ultrabithorax. ASX binds to multiple sites on polytene chromosomes, 70% of which overlap those of Polycomb, polyhomeotic and Polycomblike, and 30% of which are unique. The differences in target site recognition may account for some of the differences in Asx phenotypes relative to other members of the Polycomb group.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1207 - 1216


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Base Sequence, Binding Sites, Chromatin, Chromosome Mapping, Chromosomes, Cloning, Molecular, Conserved Sequence, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Immunohistochemistry, Insect Proteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Nuclear Proteins, Phenotype, Protein Binding, RNA, Messenger, Repressor Proteins, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid