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Chromatin domain insulators are thought to insulate adjacent genes, including their regulatory elements, from each other by organizing chromatin into functionally independent domains. Thus insulators should play a global role in gene regulation by keeping regulatory domains separated. However, this has never been demonstrated. We previously designed and characterized a transgene that is under GAL4 UAS control and encodes a dominant-negative form of the Boundary Element-Associated Factors BEAF-32A and BEAF-32B. The BID transgene encodes the BEAF self-interaction domain but lacks a DNA binding domain. Expression of BID in eye imaginal discs leads to a rough eye phenotype. Here we screen for dominant mutations that modify this eye phenotype. This assay provides evidence for cross-talk between different classes of insulators, and for a broad role of the BEAF proteins in maintaining patterns of gene expression during eye development. Most identified genes encode other insulator binding proteins, transcription factors involved in head development, or general transcription factors. Because it is unlikely that insulator function is limited to eye development, the present results support the hypothesis that insulators play a widespread role in maintaining global transcription programs. © 2006 Springer-Verlag.

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Molecular Genetics and Genomics

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