Polycomb group (PcG) proteins repress homeotic genes in cells where these genes must remain inactive during development. This repression requires cis-acting silencers, also called PcG response elements. Currently, these silencers are ill-defined sequences and it is not known how PcG proteins associate with DNA. Here, we show that the Drosophila PcG protein Pleiohomeotic binds to specific sites in a silencer of the homeotic gene Ultrabithorax. In an Ultrabithorax reporter gene, point mutations in these Pleiohomeotic binding sites abolish PcG repression in vivo. Hence, DNA-bound Pleiohomeotic protein may function in the recruitment of other non-DNA-binding PcG proteins to homeotic gene silencers.

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