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Gene Review

esc  -  extra sexcombs

Drosophila melanogaster

Synonyms: CG14941, Dmel\CG14941, ESC, Esc, L41867, ...
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High impact information on esc

  • In the early embryo it is found in a complex that includes ESC and is recruited to Polycomb Response Elements [1].
  • We have tested this hypothesis by examining when the esc+ gene product is required during embryogenesis, and whether the esc+ gene product is required for the stable determination of imaginal disc cells passaged in in vivo culture [2].
  • Specifically, the esc+ gene product appears to be a necessary component of the process by which other homoeotic genes, such as those of the bithorax complex, are selectively turned one, or off, in particular segmental primordia [3].
  • We have delimited the extra sex combs (esc) gene to < 4 kb that include a single transcript and are able to rescue both the maternal and zygotic esc phenotypes [4].
  • Recombinant complexes containing ESCL in place of ESC can methylate histone H3 with activity levels, and lysine specificity for K27, similar to that of the ESC-containing complex [5].

Biological context of esc

  • Furthermore, reduced escl+ dosage enhances esc loss-of-function phenotypes and double RNA interference knockdown of ESC/ESCL in wing disc-derived cells causes Ubx derepression [5].
  • Among PcG genes, esc is unique in being critically required for establishment of PcG-mediated silencing during early embryogenesis, but not for its subsequent maintenance throughout development [6].
  • However, ph503 did not enhance homeotic phenotypes of esc heterozygotes derived from homozygous esc- mothers [7].
  • Taken together, these results suggest that ESC phosphorylation normally occurs after assembly into ESC-E(Z) complexes and that it contributes to the function or regulation of these complexes [8].
  • The extra sex combs (ESC) and Enhancer of zeste [E(Z)] proteins, members of the Polycomb group (PcG) of transcriptional repressors, interact directly and are coassociated in fly embryos [8].

Anatomical context of esc

  • We have also generated germ line transformants that express ESC proteins bearing site-directed mutations that disrupt ESC-E(Z) binding in vitro [8].
  • In support of this implication, histone methylation, which requires the activity of esc gene product, is increased in hedgehog stimulated mouse NIH-3T3 cells [9].

Physical interactions of esc

  • A Drosophila ESC-E(Z) protein complex is distinct from other polycomb group complexes and contains covalently modified ESC [8].
  • A 1-megadalton ESC/E(Z) complex from Drosophila that contains polycomblike and RPD3 [10].
  • These findings provide evidence for a gene dosage-dependent interaction between the esc/E(z) complex and the Tip60 histone acetyltransferase complex [11].

Regulatory relationships of esc

  • Antibody studies confirm that expression of eve is suppressed by duplications of esc [12].

Other interactions of esc

  • The association of ESC and E(Z) with p55 and RPD3 is conserved in mammals [6].
  • However, two thirds of esc mutant embryos did not show Ubx expression in parasegment 7 (PS7) [13].
  • Flies with increasing doses of esc+ exhibit anterior transformations, but these are not enhanced by mutations in trithorax group genes [14].
  • Here we describe a novel fly PcG repressor, called ESC-Like (ESCL), whose biochemical, molecular, and genetic properties can explain the long-standing paradox of ESC dispensability during postembryonic times [5].
  • Coimmunoprecipitation and gel filtration experiments demonstrate in vivo association of PCL with E(Z) and ESC in Drosophila embryos [15].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of esc


  1. 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]
  2. Early role of the esc+ gene product in the determination of segments in Drosophila. Struhl, G., Brower, D. Cell (1982) [Pubmed]
  3. A gene product required for correct initiation of segmental determination in Drosophila. Struhl, G. Nature (1981) [Pubmed]
  4. The Polycomb-group gene, extra sex combs, encodes a nuclear member of the WD-40 repeat family. Gutjahr, T., Frei, E., Spicer, C., Baumgartner, S., White, R.A., Noll, M. EMBO J. (1995) [Pubmed]
  5. Alternative ESC and ESC-like subunits of a polycomb group histone methyltransferase complex are differentially deployed during Drosophila development. Wang, L., Jahren, N., Vargas, M.L., Andersen, E.F., Benes, J., Zhang, J., Miller, E.L., Jones, R.S., Simon, J.A. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2006) [Pubmed]
  6. The Drosophila Polycomb Group proteins ESC and E(Z) are present in a complex containing the histone-binding protein p55 and the histone deacetylase RPD3. Tie, F., Furuyama, T., Prasad-Sinha, J., Jane, E., Harte, P.J. Development (2001) [Pubmed]
  7. Interactions of polyhomeotic with Polycomb group genes of Drosophila melanogaster. Cheng, N.N., Sinclair, D.A., Campbell, R.B., Brock, H.W. Genetics (1994) [Pubmed]
  8. A Drosophila ESC-E(Z) protein complex is distinct from other polycomb group complexes and contains covalently modified ESC. Ng, J., Hart, C.M., Morgan, K., Simon, J.A. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2000) [Pubmed]
  9. Participation of Polycomb group gene extra sex combs in hedgehog signaling pathway. Shindo, N., Sakai, A., Yamada, K., Higashinakagawa, T. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. (2004) [Pubmed]
  10. A 1-megadalton ESC/E(Z) complex from Drosophila that contains polycomblike and RPD3. Tie, F., Prasad-Sinha, J., Birve, A., Rasmuson-Lestander, A., Harte, P.J. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2003) [Pubmed]
  11. Mutations in the extra sex combs and Enhancer of Polycomb Genes Increase Homologous Recombination in Somatic Cells of Drosophila melanogaster. Holmes, A.M., Weedmark, K.A., Gloor, G.B. Genetics (2006) [Pubmed]
  12. Mutations in some Polycomb group genes of Drosophila interfere with regulation of segmentation genes. McKeon, J., Slade, E., Sinclair, D.A., Cheng, N., Couling, M., Brock, H.W. Mol. Gen. Genet. (1994) [Pubmed]
  13. Effects of Polycomb group mutations on the expression of Ultrabithorax in the Drosophila visceral mesoderm. Choi, S.H., Oh, C.T., Kim, S.H., Kim, Y.T., Jeon, S.H. Mol. Cells (2000) [Pubmed]
  14. Genetic interactions and dosage effects of Polycomb group genes of Drosophila. Campbell, R.B., Sinclair, D.A., Couling, M., Brock, H.W. Mol. Gen. Genet. (1995) [Pubmed]
  15. Polycomblike PHD fingers mediate conserved interaction with enhancer of zeste protein. O'Connell, S., Wang, L., Robert, S., Jones, C.A., Saint, R., Jones, R.S. J. Biol. Chem. (2001) [Pubmed]
  16. Evolutionary conservation and predicted structure of the Drosophila extra sex combs repressor protein. Ng, J., Li, R., Morgan, K., Simon, J. Mol. Cell. Biol. (1997) [Pubmed]
  17. The Drosophila Polycomb Group proteins ESC and E(Z) bind directly to each other and co-localize at multiple chromosomal sites. Tie, F., Furuyama, T., Harte, P.J. Development (1998) [Pubmed]
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