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Gene Review

z  -  zeste

Drosophila melanogaster

Synonyms: CG7803, Dmel\CG7803, EG:BACH59J11.3, Regulatory protein zeste, e(bx), ...
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Disease relevance of z

  • Zeste protein purified from Drosophila cells or from E. coli expressing the zeste gene activates Ubx transcription in vitro [1].
  • An interesting aspect for further analysis is the apparent infrequency in the zeste-white region of alkylation-induced chromosomal breakage, as observed by various investigators for MMS, EMS and MNNG [2].
  • White spots on the other hand were equally large in size, irrespective of inducing agent and about twice the size of the chemically-induced red spots, implying a faster and more direct action for fixation of deletions than for the production of MMS induced shifts in eye color from zeste to red [3].

High impact information on z

  • Enhancer of Zeste is a Polycomb Group protein essential for the establishment and maintenance of repression of homeotic and other genes [4].
  • Zeste encodes a sequence-specific transcription factor that activates the Ultrabithorax promoter in vitro [1].
  • In contrast to the relative insensitivity of eye-color pigmentation and dosage compensation to genomic position, the transduced white DNA segments differed widely in their interactions with the zeste mutation, ranging from greater than normal repression by zeste to insensitivity to the presence of zeste [5].
  • Drosophila genes Posterior Sex Combs and Suppressor two of zeste encode proteins with homology to the murine bmi-1 oncogene [6].
  • We have used this technique to test the proposal of Jack and Judd that the zeste locus of Drosophila melanogaster cannot repress the activity of unpaired alleles at the white locus [7].

Biological context of z


Anatomical context of z


Associations of z with chemical compounds


Physical interactions of z

  • A Drosophila Polycomb group complex includes Zeste and dTAFII proteins [19].
  • Drosophila Enhancer of zeste protein interacts with dSAP18 [20].
  • Binding of eve protein is shown to exclude binding by zeste protein [21].
  • In this report, we demonstrate that zeste mutations can also interact with those decapentaplegic mutations that exhibit transvection effects [22].
  • Here we find that purified zeste protein binds to multiple sites just 5' of the initiation site of Ubx RNA [1].

Regulatory relationships of z

  • These genetic data, when considered with our earlier biochemical experiments, demonstrate that zeste directly and potently activates Ubx transcription in vivo [23].
  • This P repression effect occurs only in the presence of the zeste allele and is suppressed by Su(z)2 mutations [24].
  • We have also shown that the expressivity of Scutoid is enhanced by zeste mutations. snail and escargot encode evolutionarily conserved zinc-finger proteins involved in the development of mesoderm and limbs [25].

Other interactions of z

  • The Drosophila brahma complex is an essential coactivator for the trithorax group protein zeste [8].
  • Because it is not required for Zeste to bind to chromatin, the BRM complex appears to act after promoter binding by the activator [8].
  • Interestingly, although the Imitation Switch (ISWI) remodelers are potent nucleosome spacing factors, they are dispensable for transcriptional activation by Zeste [8].
  • Transvection at the Scr gene is blocked by rearrangements that disrupt pairing, but is zeste independent [26].
  • We present a model in which the dual transcriptional activities of Zeste and GAGA are an essential component of the mechanism that chooses which maintenance system is to be targeted to a given promoter [27].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of z

  • Transcription was analysed by Northern blot hybridisation in the wild-type and several mutants: wa, w67c23, we, wsp and zeste [28].
  • Of 33 mutations of this X-linked gene isolated, 16 were associated with multilocus deletions of zeste and adjacent complementation groups, while the remainder were defects restricted to zeste undetectable by Southern blot analysis [17].
  • The DNA sequence C/AGAGCGC/AGA, related to binding sites for GAF and Zeste transcription factors, was selected from a pool of degenerate PCR fragments for binding to the cytoplasmic protein of Drosophila preblastoderm embryos [29].
  • In situ hybridization with probes from the white-roughest interval shows that the reduced TE's are truncated in the same region, 40-90 kb upstream of the white locus, well proximal to the zeste interaction site [30].


  1. Zeste encodes a sequence-specific transcription factor that activates the Ultrabithorax promoter in vitro. Biggin, M.D., Bickel, S., Benson, M., Pirrotta, V., Tjian, R. Cell (1988) [Pubmed]
  2. Effect of storage and dose on MMS-induced deletions. Complementation analysis of X-chromosomal recessive lethals in the zeste-white and maroon-like regions of Drosophila melanogaster. Parádi, E., Vogel, E.W., Szilágyi, E. Mutat. Res. (1983) [Pubmed]
  3. Comparative studies of the induction of somatic eye-color mutations in an unstable strain of Drosophila melanogaster by MMS and X-rays at different developmental stages. Rasmuson, A. Mutat. Res. (1985) [Pubmed]
  4. Drosophila enhancer of Zeste/ESC complexes have a histone H3 methyltransferase activity that marks chromosomal Polycomb sites. Czermin, B., Melfi, R., McCabe, D., Seitz, V., Imhof, A., Pirrotta, V. Cell (2002) [Pubmed]
  5. Transformation of white locus DNA in drosophila: dosage compensation, zeste interaction, and position effects. Hazelrigg, T., Levis, R., Rubin, G.M. Cell (1984) [Pubmed]
  6. Drosophila genes Posterior Sex Combs and Suppressor two of zeste encode proteins with homology to the murine bmi-1 oncogene. Brunk, B.P., Martin, E.C., Adler, P.N. Nature (1991) [Pubmed]
  7. Chimaeras of Drosophila melanogaster obtained by injection of haploid nuclei. Santamaría, P., Gans, M. Nature (1980) [Pubmed]
  8. The Drosophila brahma complex is an essential coactivator for the trithorax group protein zeste. Kal, A.J., Mahmoudi, T., Zak, N.B., Verrijzer, C.P. Genes Dev. (2000) [Pubmed]
  9. Characterization of the extended Myb-like DNA-binding domain of trithorax group protein Zeste. Mohrmann, L., Kal, A.J., Verrijzer, C.P. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
  10. A Polycomb-group gene regulates homeotic gene expression in Arabidopsis. Goodrich, J., Puangsomlee, P., Martin, M., Long, D., Meyerowitz, E.M., Coupland, G. Nature (1997) [Pubmed]
  11. Developmental expression of the Drosophila zeste gene and localization of zeste protein on polytene chromosomes. Pirrotta, V., Bickel, S., Mariani, C. Genes Dev. (1988) [Pubmed]
  12. Molecular cloning, germ-line transformation, and transcriptional analysis of the zeste locus of Drosophila melanogaster. Gunaratne, P.H., Mansukhani, A., Lipari, S.E., Liou, H.C., Martindale, D.W., Goldberg, M.L. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1986) [Pubmed]
  13. Epigenome changes in active and inactive polycomb-group-controlled regions. Breiling, A., O'Neill, L.P., D'Eliseo, D., Turner, B.M., Orlando, V. EMBO Rep. (2004) [Pubmed]
  14. Molecular analysis of the zeste-white interaction reveals a promoter-proximal element essential for distant enhancer-promoter communication. Qian, S., Varjavand, B., Pirrotta, V. Genetics (1992) [Pubmed]
  15. Nucleotide sequence and structural analysis of the zeste locus of Drosophila melanogaster. Mansukhani, A., Gunaratne, P.H., Sherwood, P.W., Sneath, B.J., Goldberg, M.L. Mol. Gen. Genet. (1988) [Pubmed]
  16. CA150, a nuclear protein associated with the RNA polymerase II holoenzyme, is involved in Tat-activated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transcription. Suñé, C., Hayashi, T., Liu, Y., Lane, W.S., Young, R.A., Garcia-Blanco, M.A. Mol. Cell. Biol. (1997) [Pubmed]
  17. The Drosophila zeste locus is nonessential. Goldberg, M.L., Colvin, R.A., Mellin, A.F. Genetics (1989) [Pubmed]
  18. A proline-rich region in the Zeste protein essential for transvection and white repression by Zeste. Rosen, C., Dorsett, D., Jack, J. Genetics (1998) [Pubmed]
  19. A Drosophila Polycomb group complex includes Zeste and dTAFII proteins. Saurin, A.J., Shao, Z., Erdjument-Bromage, H., Tempst, P., Kingston, R.E. Nature (2001) [Pubmed]
  20. Drosophila Enhancer of zeste protein interacts with dSAP18. Wang, L., Ding, L., Jones, C.A., Jones, R.S. Gene (2002) [Pubmed]
  21. Cooperative binding at a distance by even-skipped protein correlates with repression and suggests a mechanism of silencing. TenHarmsel, A., Austin, R.J., Savenelli, N., Biggin, M.D. Mol. Cell. Biol. (1993) [Pubmed]
  22. Interactions of zeste mutations with loci exhibiting transvection effects in Drosophila melanogaster. Gelbart, W.M., Wu, C.T. Genetics (1982) [Pubmed]
  23. zeste, a nonessential gene, potently activates Ultrabithorax transcription in the Drosophila embryo. Laney, J.D., Biggin, M.D. Genes Dev. (1992) [Pubmed]
  24. P element regulatory products enhance zeste repression of a P[white duplicated] transgene in Drosophila melanogaster. Coen, D. Genetics (1990) [Pubmed]
  25. Snail-type zinc finger proteins prevent neurogenesis in Scutoid and transgenic animals of Drosophila. Fuse, N., Matakatsu, H., Taniguchi, M., Hayashi, S. Dev. Genes Evol. (1999) [Pubmed]
  26. Transvection and silencing of the Scr homeotic gene of Drosophila melanogaster. Southworth, J.W., Kennison, J.A. Genetics (2002) [Pubmed]
  27. Zeste maintains repression of Ubx transgenes: support for a new model of Polycomb repression. Hur, M.W., Laney, J.D., Jeon, S.H., Ali, J., Biggin, M.D. Development (2002) [Pubmed]
  28. Transcription of the Drosophila white locus and some of its mutants. Pirrotta, V., Bröckl, C. EMBO J. (1984) [Pubmed]
  29. Novel DNA-binding protein from Drosophila embryos identified by binding site selection. Todorović, V., Kojić, S., Vujanac, M., Savić, A., Stefanović, D. FEBS Lett. (1996) [Pubmed]
  30. Characterization and zeste reaction of spontaneously reduced transposable elements in Drosophila melanogaster. Lassen, C. Hereditas (1989) [Pubmed]
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