Molecular and General Genetics MGG

, Volume 246, Issue 3, pp 291–300 | Cite as

Genetic interactions and dosage effects of Polycomb group genes of Drosophila

  • Roderick B. Campbell
  • Donald A. R. Sinclair
  • Mitchell Couling
  • Hugh W. Brock
Original Paper


The Polycomb (Pc) group of genes are required for maintenance of cell determination in Drosophila melanogaster. At least 11 Pc group genes have been described and there may be up to 40; all are required for normal regulation of homeotic genes, but as a group, their phenotypes are rather diverse. It has been suggested that the products of Pc group genes might be members of a heteromeric complex that acts to regulate the chromatin structure of target loci. We examined the phenotypes of adult flies heterozygous for every pairwise combination of Pc group genes in an attempt to subdivide the Pc group functionally. The results support the idea that Additional sex combs (Asx), Pc, Polycomblike (Pcl), Posterior sex combs (Psc), Sex combs on midleg (Scm), and Sex combs extra (Sce) have similar functions in some imaginal tissues. We show genetic interactions among extra sex combs (esc) and Asx, Enhancer of Pc, Pcl, Enhancer of zeste E(z), and super sex combs and reassess the idea that most Pc group genes function independently of esc. Most duplications of Pc group genes neither exhibit anterior transformations nor suppress the extra sex comb phenotype of Pc group mutations, suggesting that not all Pc group genes behave as predicted by the mass-action model. Surprisingly, duplications of E(z) enhance homeotic phenotypes of esc mutants. Flies with increasing doses of esc+ exhibit anterior transformations, but these are not enhanced by mutations in trithorax group genes. The results are discussed with respect to current models of Pc group function.

Key words

Polycomb group trithorax group Homeotic Chromatin 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roderick B. Campbell
    • 1
  • Donald A. R. Sinclair
    • 1
  • Mitchell Couling
    • 1
  • Hugh W. Brock
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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