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      Identification of candidate downstream genes for the homeodomain transcription factor Labial in Drosophila through oligonucleotide-array transcript imaging

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          Homeotic genes are key developmental regulators that are highly conserved throughout evolution. Their encoded homeoproteins function as transcription factors to control a wide range of developmental processes. Although much is known about homeodomain-DNA interactions, only a small number of genes acting downstream of homeoproteins have been identified. Here we use a functional genomic approach to identify candidate target genes of the Drosophila homeodomain transcription factor Labial.


          High-density oligonucleotide arrays with probe sets representing 1,513 identified and sequenced genes were used to analyze differential gene expression following labial overexpression in Drosophila embryos. We find significant expression level changes for 96 genes belonging to all functional classes represented on the array. In accordance with our experimental procedure, we expect that these genes are either direct or indirect targets of labial gene action. Among these genes, 48 were upregulated and 48 were downregulated following labial overexpression. This corresponds to 6.3% of the genes represented on the array. For a selection of these genes, we show that the data obtained with the oligonucleotide arrays are consistent with data obtained using quantitative RT-PCR.


          Our results identify a number of novel candidate downstream target genes for Labial, suggesting that this homeoprotein differentially regulates a limited and distinct set of embryonically expressed Drosophila genes.

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          Most cited references 56

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          The human genome encodes approximately 100,000 different genes, and at least partial sequence information for nearly all will be available soon. Sequence information alone, however, is insufficient for a full understanding of gene function, expression, regulation, and splice-site variation. Because cellular processes are governed by the repertoire of expressed genes, and the levels and timing of expression, it is important to have experimental tools for the direct monitoring of large numbers of mRNAs in parallel. We have developed an approach that is based on hybridization to small, high-density arrays containing tens of thousands of synthetic oligonucleotides. The arrays are designed based on sequence information alone and are synthesized in situ using a combination of photolithography and oligonucleotide chemistry. RNAs present at a frequency of 1:300,000 are unambiguously detected, and detection is quantitative over more than three orders of magnitude. This approach provides a way to use directly the growing body of sequence information for highly parallel experimental investigations. Because of the combinatorial nature of the chemistry and the ability to synthesize small arrays containing hundreds of thousands of specifically chosen oligonucleotides, the method is readily scalable to the simultaneous monitoring of tens of thousands of genes.
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            A comparative analysis of the genomes of Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae-and the proteins they are predicted to encode-was undertaken in the context of cellular, developmental, and evolutionary processes. The nonredundant protein sets of flies and worms are similar in size and are only twice that of yeast, but different gene families are expanded in each genome, and the multidomain proteins and signaling pathways of the fly and worm are far more complex than those of yeast. The fly has orthologs to 177 of the 289 human disease genes examined and provides the foundation for rapid analysis of some of the basic processes involved in human disease.
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                Author and article information

                Genome Biol
                Genome Biology
                BioMed Central (London )
                24 April 2001
                : 2
                : 5
                : research0015.1-research0015.9
                [1 ]Institute of Zoology, Biocenter/Pharmacenter, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.
                [2 ]PRGT, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, CH-4070 Basel, Switzerland.
                Correspondence: Frank Hirth. E-mail:
                Copyright © 2001 Leemans et al., licensee BioMed Central Ltd



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