The Abdominal-B (Abd-B) gene belongs to the bithorax complex and its expression is controlled by four regulatory domains, iab-5, iab-6, iab-7 and iab-8, each of which is thought to be responsible for directing the expression of Abd-B in one of the abdominal segments from A5 to A8. A variety of experiments have supported the idea that BX-C regulatory domains are functionally autonomous and that each domain is both necessary and sufficient to orchestrate the development of the segment they specify. Unexpectedly, we discovered that this model does not always hold. Instead, we find that tissue-specific enhancers located in the iab-5 domain are required for the proper activation of Abd-B not only in A5 but also in A6. Our findings indicate that the functioning of the iab-5 and iab-6 domains in development of the adult cuticle A5 and A6 in males fit better with an additive model, much like that first envisioned by Ed Lewis.

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