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The Daughterless N-terminus directly mediates synergistic interactions with Notch transcription complexes via the SPS+A DNA transcription code

John W Cave12*, Li Xia2 and Michael A Caudy123

Author affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10021, USA

2 Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains, NY, 10605, USA

3 Current address: Gnomics Web Services, New York, NY, 10471, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Research Notes 2009, 2:65  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-65

Published: 28 April 2009

Abstract

Background

Cell-specific expression of a subset of Enhancer of split (E(spl)-C) genes in proneural clusters is mediated by synergistic interactions between bHLH A (

    b
asic
    H
elix-
    L
oop-
    H
elix
    A
ctivator) and Notch-signalling transcription complex (NTC) proteins. For a some of these E(spl)-C genes, such as m8, these synergistic interactions are programmed by an "SPS+A" transcription code in the cis-regulatory regions. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this synergistic interaction between NTCs and proneural bHLH A proteins are not fully understood.

Findings

Using cell transcription assays, we show that the N-terminal region of the Daughterless (Da) bHLH A protein is critical for synergistic interactions with NTCs that activate the E(spl)-C m8 promoter. These assays also show that this interaction is dependent on the specific inverted repeat architecture of Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) binding sites in the SPS+A transcription code. Using protein-protein interaction assays, we show that two distinct regions within the Da N-terminus make a direct physical interaction with the NTC protein Su(H). Deletion of these interaction domains in Da creates a dominant negative protein that eliminates NTC-bHLH A transcriptional synergy on the m8 promoter. In addition, over-expression of this dominant negative Da protein disrupts Notch-mediated lateral inhibition during mechanosensory bristle neurogenesis in vivo.

Conclusion

These findings indicate that direct physical interactions between Da-N and Su(H) are critical for the transcriptional synergy between NTC and bHLH A proteins on the m8 promoter. Our results also indicate that the orientation of the Su(H) binding sites in the SPS+A transcription code are critical for programming the interaction between Da-N and Su(H) proteins. Together, these findings provide insight into the molecular mechanisms by which the NTC synergistically interacts with bHLH A proteins to mediate Notch target gene expression in proneural clusters.