Within the bithorax homeotic complex of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a >92 kb-long non-coding RNA, called the iab-8 ncRNA, downregulates many important developmental genes, including its genomic downstream neighbor, the homeotic gene abd-A. This downregulation is important as its loss is linked to female sterility.
Interestingly, Robert Maeda and colleagues find that the iab-8 ncRNA regulates abd-A through a mechanism called transcriptional interference, where one gene downregulates a target gene by transcribing over it. In the case of iab-8, this process is limited to the posterior central nervous system, where the iab-8 ncRNA is specifically extended into the abd-A gene by the action of the neuronal-specific RNA binding protein, ELAV. Overall, this work highlights a largely unexplored mechanism by which tissue-specific gene regulation is achieved.
L’article a été publié dans la revue PLOS Genetics le 15 Nov. 2021