The Polycomblike gene of Drosophila melanogaster, a member of the Polycomb Group of genes, is required for the correct spatial expression of the homeotic genes of the Antennapaedia and Bithorax Complexes. Mutations in Polycomb Group genes result in ectopic homeotic gene expression, indicating that Polycomb Group proteins maintain the transcriptional repression of specific homeotic genes in specific tissues during development. We report here the isolation and molecular characterisation of the Polycomblike gene. The Polycomblike transcript encodes an 857 amino acid protein with no significant homology to other proteins. Antibodies raised against the product of this open reading frame were used to show that the Polycomblike protein is found in all nuclei during embryonic development. Antibody staining also revealed that the Polycomblike protein is found on larval salivary gland polytene chromosomes at about 100 specific loci, the same loci to which the Polycomb and polyhomeotic proteins, two other Polycomb Group proteins, are found. These data add further support for a model in which Polycomb Group proteins form multimeric protein complexes at specific chromosomal loci to repress transcription at those loci.

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