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In an effort to characterize sequence-specific transcription factors that regulate gene expression during Drosophila development, we identified and purified a novel DNA-binding activity (NTF-1). The purified protein consists of several polypeptides that bind selectively to a functionally important cis-control element of the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) promoter and to the neurogenic elements of both the dopa decarboxylase (Ddc) and fushi tarazu (ftz) promoter/enhancer regions. Purified NTF-1 activates transcription in vitro in a binding site-dependent manner through upstream sequences of the Ubx promoter. A cDNA clone encoding the open reading frame of NTF-1 was isolated, and the deduced primary amino acid sequence of NTF-1 includes a glutamine-rich region reminiscent of the transcriptional activation domains found in Sp1 but no recognizable DNA-binding domain. NTF-1 expression is temporally regulated during embryonic development. In addition, in situ hybridization experiments revealed that NTF-1 is transcribed in a spatially restricted pattern in the embryo, with the highest level of expression observed in the epidermis and a subset of cells in the CNS. Expression of the NTF-1 cDNA in mammalian cells yields a protein that displays DNA-binding and transcriptional activities indistinguishable from that of the collection of proteins isolated from Drosophila embryos. These findings suggest that NTF-1 is a member of a family of developmentally regulated transcription factors that may be involved in directing the expression of genes such as Ubx, Ddc, and ftz in neuronal cells.


Journal article


Genes Dev

Publication Date





1677 - 1688


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Base Sequence, Blotting, Northern, Cloning, Molecular, DNA, DNA-Binding Proteins, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Neurons, Nucleic Acid Hybridization, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Transcription Factors, Transcription, Genetic, Vaccinia virus