Suppressor of Hairless: Biological Overview | Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Protein Interactions | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References

Gene name - Suppressor of Hairless

Synonyms - RBP-Jkappa

Cytological map position - 35B3-C1

Function - transcription factor

Keywords - Notch pathway

Symbol - Su(H)

FlyBase ID:FBgn0004837

Genetic map position - 2-[50.5]

Classification - BTD: Beta-trefoil DNA-binding domain, IPT_RBP-Jkappa, LAG1-DNAbind: LAG1, DNA binding

Cellular location - cytoplasmic and nuclear



NCBI links: Precomputed BLAST | Entrez Gene

Recent literature
Skalska, L., Stojnic, R., Li, J., Fischer, B., Cerda-Moya, G., Sakai, H., Tajbakhsh, S., Russell, S., Adryan, B. and Bray, S. J. (2015) Chromatin signatures at Notch-regulated enhancers reveal large-scale changes in H3K56ac upon activation. EMBO J [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 26069324.
Summary:
The conserved Notch pathway functions in diverse developmental and disease-related processes, requiring mechanisms to ensure appropriate target selection and gene activation in each context. To investigate the influence of chromatin organisation and dynamics on the response to Notch signalling, this study partitioned Drosophila chromatin using histone modifications and established the preferred chromatin conditions for binding of Su(H), the Notch pathway transcription factor. Manipulating activity of a co-operating factor, Lozenge/Runx, showed that it can help facilitate these conditions. While many histone modifications were unchanged by Su(H) binding or Notch activation, rapid changes were detected in acetylation of H3K56 at Notch-regulated enhancers. This modification extended over large regions, required the histone acetyl-transferase CBP and was independent of transcription. Such rapid changes in H3K56 acetylation appear to be a conserved indicator of enhancer activation as they also occurred at the mammalian Notch-regulated Hey1 gene and at Drosophila ecdysone-regulated genes. This intriguing example of a core histone modification increasing over short timescales may therefore underpin changes in chromatin accessibility needed to promote transcription following signalling activation.

Bivik, C., MacDonald, R. B., Gunnar, E., Mazouni, K., Schweisguth, F. and Thor, S. (2016) . Control of neural daughter cell proliferation by multi-level Notch/Su(H)/E(spl)-HLH signaling. PLoS Genet 12: e1005984. PubMed ID: 27070787
Summary:
The Notch pathway controls proliferation during development and in adulthood, and is frequently affected in many disorders. However, the genetic sensitivity and multi-layered transcriptional properties of the Notch pathway has made its molecular decoding challenging. This study addresses the complexity of Notch signaling with respect to proliferation, using the developing Drosophila CNS as model. A Notch/Su(H)/E(spl)-HLH cascade was found to specifically controls daughter, but not progenitor proliferation. Additionally, it was found that different E(spl)-HLH genes are required in different neuroblast lineages. The Notch/Su(H)/E(spl)-HLH cascade alters daughter proliferation by regulating four key cell cycle factors: Cyclin E, String/Cdc25, E2f and Dacapo (mammalian p21CIP1/p27KIP1/p57Kip2). ChIP and DamID analysis of Su(H) and E(spl)-HLH indicates direct transcriptional regulation of the cell cycle genes, and of the Notch pathway itself. These results point to a multi-level signaling model and may help shed light on the dichotomous proliferative role of Notch signaling in many other systems.
Yuan, Z., Praxenthaler, H., Tabaja, N., Torella, R., Preiss, A., Maier, D. and Kovall, R. A. (2016). Structure and function of the Su(H)-Hairless repressor complex, the major antagonist of Notch signaling in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS Biol 14: e1002509. PubMed ID: 27404588
Summary:
Notch is a conserved signaling pathway that specifies cell fates in metazoans. Receptor-ligand interactions induce changes in gene expression, which is regulated by the transcription factor CBF1/Su(H)/Lag-1 (CSL). CSL interacts with coregulators to repress and activate transcription from Notch target genes. While the molecular details of the activator complex are relatively well understood, the structure-function of CSL-mediated repressor complexes is poorly defined. In Drosophila, the antagonist Hairless directly binds Su(H) (the fly CSL ortholog) to repress transcription from Notch targets. This study determined the X-ray structure of the Su(H)-Hairless complex bound to DNA. Hairless binding produces a large conformational change in Su(H) by interacting with residues in the hydrophobic core of Su(H), illustrating the structural plasticity of CSL molecules to interact with different binding partners. Based on the structure, mutants in Hairless and Su(H) were designed that affect binding, but do not affect formation of the activator complex. These mutants were validated in vitro by isothermal titration calorimetry and yeast two- and three-hybrid assays. Moreover, these mutants allowed characterization the repressor function of Su(H) in vivo.
Shukla, J. P., Deshpande, G. and Shashidhara, L. S. (2017). Ataxin-2 binding protein 1 is a context-specific positive regulator of Notch signaling during neurogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Development [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28174239
Summary:
The role of Notch pathway during lateral inhibition underlying binary cell fate choice is extensively studied, although context-specificity that generates diverse outcomes is relatively less well understood. In the peripheral nervous system of Drosophila melanogaster, differential Notch signaling between cells of proneural cluster orchestrates sensory organ specification. This study reports functional analysis of Drosophila Ataxin2 binding protein1 (dA2BP1; RNA-binding Fox protein 1) during this process. It's human orthologue A2BP1 is linked to type 2 Spinocerebellar ataxia and other complex neuronal disorders. Downregulation of dA2BP1 in the proneural cluster increases adult sensory bristle number whereas it's over-expression results in loss of bristles. dA2BP1 regulates sensory organ specification by potentiating Notch signaling. Supporting its direct involvement, the biochemical analysis shows that dA2BP1 is part of the Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) complex both in the presence and absence of Notch. However, in the absence of Notch signaling, the dA2BP1 interacting fraction of Su(H) does not associate with the repressor proteins, Groucho and CtBP. Based on these data a model is proposed explaining requirement of dA2BP1 as a positive regulator of Notch, whose activity is context-specific.
Shukla, J.P., Deshpande, G. and Shashidhara, L.S. (2017). Ataxin-2 binding protein 1 is a context-specific positive regulator of Notch signaling during neurogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Development [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28174239
Summary:
The role of Notch pathway during lateral inhibition underlying binary cell fate choice is extensively studied, although context-specificity that generates diverse outcomes is relatively less well understood. In the peripheral nervous system of Drosophila melanogaster, differential Notch signaling between cells of proneural cluster orchestrates sensory organ specification. This study reports functional analysis of Drosophila Ataxin2 binding protein1 (dA2BP1) during this process. It's human orthologue A2BP1 is linked to type 2 Spinocerebellar ataxia and other complex neuronal disorders. Downregulation of dA2BP1 in the proneural cluster increases adult sensory bristle number whereas it's over-expression results in loss of bristles. dA2BP1was found to regulate sensory organ specification by potentiating Notch signaling. Supporting its direct involvement, biochemical analysis showed that dA2BP1 is part of the Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) complex both in the presence and absence of Notch. However, in the absence of Notch signaling, the dA2BP1 interacting fraction of Su(H) does not associate with the repressor proteins, Groucho and CtBP. Based on these data the study proposes a model explaining requirement of dA2BP1 as a positive regulator of Notch, whose activity is context-specific.

Koromila, T. and Stathopoulos, A. (2017). Broadly expressed repressors integrate patterning across orthogonal axes in embryos. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. PubMed ID: 28720706
Summary:
The role of spatially localized repressors in supporting embryonic patterning is well appreciated, but, alternatively, the role ubiquitously expressed repressors play in this process is not well understood. This study investigated the function of two broadly expressed repressors, Runt (Run) and Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)], in patterning the Drosophila embryo. Previous studies have shown that Run and Su(H) regulate gene expression along anterior-posterior (AP) or dorsal-ventral (DV) axes, respectively, by spatially limiting activator action, but this study characterizes a different role. The data show that broadly expressed repressors silence particular enhancers within cis-regulatory systems, blocking their expression throughout the embryo fully but transiently, and, in this manner, regulate spatiotemporal outputs along both axes. These results suggest that Run and Su(H) regulate the temporal action of enhancers and are not dedicated regulators of one axis but, instead, act coordinately to pattern both axes, AP and DV.
Bhattacharya, A., Li, K., Quiquand, M., Rimesso, G. and Baker, N. E. (2017). The Notch pathway regulates the Second Mitotic Wave cell cycle independently of bHLH proteins. Dev Biol [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28919436
Summary:
Notch regulates both neurogenesis and cell cycle activity to coordinate precursor cell generation in the differentiating Drosophila eye. Mosaic analysis with mitotic clones mutant for Notch components was used to identify the pathway of Notch signaling that regulates the cell cycle in the Second Mitotic Wave. Although S phase entry depends on Notch signaling and on the transcription factor Su(H), the transcriptional co-activator Mam and the bHLH repressor genes of the E(spl)-Complex were not essential, although these are Su(H) coactivators and targets during the regulation of neurogenesis. The Second Mitotic Wave showed little dependence on ubiquitin ligases neuralized or mindbomb, and although the ligand Delta is required non-autonomously, partial cell cycle activity occurred in the absence of known Notch ligands. This study found that myc was not essential for the Second Mitotic Wave. The Second Mitotic Wave did not require the HLH protein Extra macrochaetae, and the bHLH protein Daughterless was required only cell-nonautonomously. Similar cell cycle phenotypes for Daughterless and Atonal were consistent with requirement for neuronal differentiation to stimulate Delta expression, affecting Notch activity in the Second Mitotic Wave indirectly. Therefore Notch signaling acts to regulate the Second Mitotic Wave without activating bHLH gene targets.
Nagel, A. C., Auer, J. S., Schulz, A., Pfannstiel, J., Yuan, Z., Collins, C. E., Kovall, R. A. and Preiss, A. (2017). Phosphorylation of Suppressor of Hairless impedes its DNA-binding activity. Sci Rep 7(1): 11820. PubMed ID: 28928428
Summary:
Notch signalling activity governs cellular differentiation in higher metazoa, where Notch signals are transduced by the transcription factor CSL, called Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)] in Drosophila. Su(H) operates as molecular switch on Notch target genes: within activator complexes, including intracellular Notch, or within repressor complexes, including the antagonist Hairless. Mass spectrometry identified phosphorylation on Serine 269 in Su(H), potentially serving as a point of cross-regulation by other signalling pathways were generated. To address the biological significance, phospho-deficient [Su(H)S269A] and phospho-mimetic [Su(H)S269D] variants were generated: the latter displayed reduced transcriptional activity despite unaltered protein interactions with co-activators and -repressors. Based on the Su(H) structure, Ser269 phosphorylation may interfere with DNA-binding, which was confirmed by electro-mobility shift assay and isothermal titration calorimetry. Overexpression of Su(H)S269D during fly development demonstrated reduced transcriptional regulatory activity, similar to the previously reported DNA-binding defective mutant Su(H)R266H. As both are able to bind Hairless and Notch proteins, Su(H)S269D and Su(H)R266H provoked dominant negative effects upon overexpression. These data imply that Ser269 phosphorylation impacts Notch signalling activity by inhibiting DNA-binding of Su(H), potentially affecting both activation and repression. Ser269 is highly conserved in vertebrate CSL homologues, opening the possibility of a general and novel mechanism of modulating Notch signalling activity.
Xu, T. et al. (2017). RBPJ/CBF1 interacts with L3MBTL3/MBT1 to promote repression of Notch signaling via histone demethylase KDM1A/LSD1. Embo J 36(21): 3232-3249. PubMed ID: 29030483
Summary:
Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved signal transduction pathway that is essential for metazoan development. Upon ligand binding, the Notch intracellular domain (NOTCH ICD) translocates into the nucleus and forms a complex with the transcription factor RBPJ (also known as CBF1 or CSL) to activate expression of Notch target genes. In the absence of a Notch signal, RBPJ acts as a transcriptional repressor. Using a proteomic approach, this study identified L3MBTL3 (also known as MBT1) as a novel RBPJ interactor. L3MBTL3 competes with NOTCH ICD for binding to RBPJ (Suppressor of Hairless in Drosophila) In the absence of NOTCH ICD, RBPJ recruits L3MBTL3 and the histone demethylase KDM1A (also known as LSD1) to the enhancers of Notch target genes, leading to H3K4me2 demethylation and to transcriptional repression. Importantly, in vivo analyses of the homologs of RBPJ and L3MBTL3 in Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans demonstrate that the functional link between RBPJ and L3MBTL3 is evolutionarily conserved, thus identifying L3MBTL3 as a universal modulator of Notch signaling in metazoans.
Preiss, A., Nagel, A. C., Praxenthaler, H. and Maier, D. (2018). Complex genetic interactions of novel Suppressor of Hairless alleles deficient in co-repressor binding. PLoS One 13(3): e0193956. PubMed ID: 29509808
Summary:
In Drosophila, repression of Notch target genes involves the CSL homologue Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) and the Notch (N) antagonist Hairless (H) that together form a repressor complex. Guided by crystal structure, three mutations Su(H)LL, Su(H)LLF and Su(H)LLL were generated that specifically affect interactions with the repressor H, and were introduced into the endogenous Su(H) locus by gene engineering. In contrast to the wild type isoform, these Su(H) mutants are incapable of repressor complex formation. Accordingly, Notch signalling activity is dramatically elevated in the homozygotes, resembling complete absence of H activity. It was noted, however, that heterozygotes do not display a dominant H loss of function phenotype. This work addressed genetic interactions the three H-binding deficient Su(H) mutants display in combination with H and N null alleles. A null mutant was included of Delta (Dl), encoding the ligand of the Notch receptor, as well as of Su(H) itself in the genetic analyses. H, N or Dl mutations cause dominant wing phenotypes that are sensitive to gene dose of the others. Moreover, H heterozygotes lack bristle organs and develop bristle sockets instead of shafts. The latter phenotype is suppressed by Su(H) null alleles but not by H-binding deficient Su(H) alleles which was attributed to the socket cell specific activity of Su(H). Modification of the dominant wing phenotypes of either H, N or Dl, however, suggested some lack of repressor activity in the Su(H) null allele and likewise in the H-binding deficient Su(H) alleles. Overall, Su(H) mutants are recessive perhaps reflecting self-adjusting availability of Su(H) protein.

BIOLOGICAL OVERVIEW

Su(H) is an integral part of the Notch signaling pathway and is neurogenic, like Notch. Su(H) protein is both cytoplasmic and nuclear. In the cytoplasm it interacts with the transmembrane Notch receptor that receives neurogenic signals from outside the cell. Su(H) then carries the Notch signal into the nucleus. Once there, Su(H) acts as a transcription factor regulating neurogenesis. The target of Su (H) is the Enhancer of split complex of genes which acts to suppress neural development. This suppressive function of the E(spl) complex is at the heart of the lateral inhibition function of the Notch pathway.

The names for Drosophila genes often run counter-intuitive to their actual function. One example of this perversity is the gene Hairless. One would assume a gene named "hairless" acts to restrict the number of bristles. Just the opposite is true. It seems that Hairless functions to enhance the formation of adult sense organs. Only when mutated does Hairless 's name match the results of its (in)activity, that is, the loss of adult kinesthetic sense organs. A fully functioning Hairless, novel in sequence, acts to oppose the antineural effect of Su(H), that is, the tendency of Su(H) to inhibit neurogenesis. Hairless physically interacts with Su(H), interferring with Su(H)'s ability to activate transcription of the Enhancer of split complex. And here too the naming is perverse. Enhancer of split genes oppose neurogenesis, yet they are grouped correctly among the neurogenic genes. Thus Hairless can be considered a neural patterning gene, carrying out its normal function by direct inhibition of Su(H) (Brou, 1994). One can speculate whether or not Hairless also interacts positively with proneural genes to enhance the neural fate.

Supressor of Hairless, also known as CSL (CBF-1/SuH/Lag-1), is the nuclear effector of the Notch signaling pathway and is 68% conserved with the human ortholog CBF-1. It is a three domain protein consisting of an N-terminal Rel homology region (NTD), a Beta-trefoil domain (BTD), and a C-terminal Rel homology region (CTD). The NTD and BTD mediate interactions with DNA, while the BTD and CTD mediate interactions with the intracellular domain of Notch and the NTD and CTD mediate interactions with the transcriptional coactivator Mastermind

Aspects of Drosophila development seem to resemble development of C. elegans more and more at every turn. The assumption of alternative sister cell fates in asymmetric division and the role of cleavage plane in determining positional fate of cells are two common aspects that keep cropping up. Su(H) expression in sensory organ precursors (SOP) has an integral role in establishment of alternative cell fates, and also indicates the importance cleave plane in determining cell fate. SOPs divide once to give rise to pIIb and pIIa progeny. PIIb give rise to neuron and sheath (glial theocogen) cells and pIIa give rise to shaft (stimulus receptive) and socket cells. These four progeny of SOPs make up the mechanosensory bristle of the adult fly.

Specific accumulation of Su(H) in the socket cell, which is the receiver of lateral inhibition, is delayed, suggesting that the differential expression of Su(H) is a consequence of a pre-existing asymmetry. In any case, a high level of Su(H) is both necessary and sufficient for socket cell fate (Schweisguth, 1994).

Division of pIIa occurs before division of pIIb, resulting in a three-cell stage. The orientation of these three-cell clusters along the anteroposterior axis and the position of the socket cell within this cluster is reproducibly defined in the developing notum. The presumptive socket cell is always the most posterior of the three cells. It is probable that this alignment is primarily determined by the orientation of the cleavage plane. It is not yet known what factors are responsible for the positional clues determining cleavage plane (Gho, 1996).

A new hypomorphic numb mutant not only displays a double-socket phenotype, due to a hair cell to socket cell transformation, but also a double-sheath phenotype, due to a neuron to sheath cell transformation. This provides direct evidence that numb functions in the neuron/sheath cell lineage as well. These results, together with the observation from immunofluorescence analysis that Numb forms a crescent in the dividing IIa and IIb cells suggest that asymmetric localization of Numb is important for the cell fate determination in all three asymmetric cell divisions in the sensory organ lineage. In the hair/socket cell lineage, but not the neuron/sheath cell lineage, a Suppressor of Hairless mutation acts as a dominant suppressor of numb mutations whereas Hairless mutations act as enhancers of numb. Therefore Su(H) and Hairless are required for determining the hair/socket cell lineage but not the neuron/sheath cell lineage. The neuron/sheath cell lineage is not affected by the loss or increase of Su(H) activity. Epistasis analysis indicates that Suppressor of Hairless acts downstream of numb. Results from in vitro binding analysis show a physical interaction between Numb and Hairless and suggest that the genetic interaction between numb and Hairless may occur through direct protein-protein interaction. These studies reveal that Suppressor of Hairless is required for only a subset of the asymmetric divisions that depend on the function of numb and Notch. Since numb and Notch are involved in an antagonistic manner in all three asymmetric divisions of the sensory organ precursor lineage, and Su(H) is involved in only a subset of these, there must exist a Su(H)-idependent Notch signaling that has not yet been well characterized (Wang, 1997).

Su(H) can undergo a functional switch from a repressor to an activator

Notch signal transduction appears to involve the ligand-induced intracellular processing of Notch, and the formation of a processed Notch-Suppressor of Hairless complex that binds DNA and activates the transcription of Notch target genes. This suggests that loss of either Notch or Su(H) activities should lead to similar cell fate changes. However, previous data indicate that, in the Drosophila blastoderm embryo, mesectoderm specification requires Notch but not Su(H) activity. The determination of the mesectodermal fate is specified by Single-minded (Sim), a transcription factor expressed in a single row of cells abutting the mesoderm. The molecular mechanisms by which the dorsoventral gradient of nuclear Dorsal establishes the single-cell wide territory of sim expression are not fully understood. Notch activity is required for sim expression in cellularizing embryos. In contrast, at this stage, Su(H) has a dual function. Su(H) activity is required to up-regulate sim expression in the mesectoderm, and to prevent the ectopic expression of sim dorsally in the neuroectoderm. Repression of sim transcription by Su(H) is direct and independent of Notch activity. Conversely, activation of sim transcription by Notch requires the Su(H)-binding sites. Thus, Notch signaling appears to relieve the repression exerted by Su(H) and to up-regulate sim transcription in the mesectoderm. A model is proposed in which repression by Su(H) and derepression by Notch are essential to allow for the definition of a single row of mesectodermal cells in the blastoderm embryo (Morel, 2000).

Proneural enhancement by Notch overcomes Suppressor-of-Hairless repressor function in the developing Drosophila eye

The receptor protein Notch plays a conserved role in restricting neural-fate specification during lateral inhibition. Lateral inhibition requires the Notch intracellular domain to coactivate Su(H)-mediated transcription of the Enhancer-of-split Complex. During Drosophila eye development, Notch plays an additional role in promoting neural fate independent of Su(H) and E(spl)-C, and this finding suggests an alternative mechanism of Notch signal transduction. Genetic mosaics were used to analyze the proneural enhancement pathway. Proneural enhancement involves upregulation of proneural gene expression in single cells that will become neurons. In Drosophila eye development, Notch (N) is required for proneural enhancement in addition to lateral inhibition. The molecular mechanism of proneural enhancement has not been determined. As in lateral inhibition, the metalloprotease Kuzbanian, the EGF repeat 12 region of the Notch extracellular domain, Presenilin, and the Notch intracellular domain are required. By contrast, proneural enhancement becomes constitutive in the absence of Su(H), and this leads to premature differentiation and upregulation of the Atonal and Senseless proteins. Ectopic Notch signaling by Delta expression ahead of the morphogenetic furrow also causes premature differentiation. It is concluded that proneural enhancement and lateral inhibition use similar ligand binding and receptor processing but differ in the nuclear role of Su(H). Prior to Notch signaling, Su(H) represses neural development directly, not indirectly through E(spl)-C. During proneural enhancement, the Notch intracellular domain overcomes the repression of neural differentiation. Later, lateral inhibition restores the repression of neural development by a different mechanism, requiring E(spl)-C transcription. Thus, Notch restricts neurogenesis temporally to a narrow time interval between two modes of repression (Li, 2001).

In the developing eye, lateral inhibition restricts the proneural gene atonal (ato) to individual R8 photoreceptor cells, which found each ommatidium. Earlier, ato must first have reached levels of activity sufficient to sustain expression by autoregulation, in conjunction with its bHLH heterodimer partner encoded by daughterless (da) and with a zinc-finger protein encoded by senseless (sens). Such 'proneural enhancement' depends on N and Dl but not on Su(H) or E(spl)-C. Clones of cells mutant for the E(spl)-C or for Su(H) lead to neural hyperplasia because they lack lateral inhibition, but clones of cells mutant for N or Dl show reduced neural differentiation because they lack proneural enhancement. These divergent phenotypes show that proneural enhancement occurs by a mechanism distinct from that of lateral inhibition (Li, 2001).

Mosaic analysis with Notch pathway mutations have been used to elucidate the mechanism of proneural enhancement. Requirements similar to those of canonical N signaling for processed forms of Dl, Notch EGF repeats 10-12, and proteolytic processing of the N intracellular domain have been found. Proneural enhancement is independent of any Su(H)-mediated gene activation but is mimicked by the complete absence of Su(H) protein, and this indicates that proneural enhancement depends on the disruption of Su(H)-mediated gene repression (Li, 2001).

The phenotypes of other mutations can be compared to the E(spl) or N phenotypes. A neurogenic mutant phenotype indicates a role in lateral inhibition, not in proneural enhancement. A hyponeural phenotype indicates a requirement in proneural enhancement (Li, 2001).

The neurogenic phenotype of the metalloprotease kuz suggests that processed Dl might be important for lateral inhibition and that unprocessed, transmembrane Dl may not be sufficient. It is unknown what form of Dl is required for proneural signaling. Clones mutant for kuz show neural hyperplasia. The distribution of R8 cells labeled by Boss antibody is intermediate between the distributions of clones null for E(spl) and for N. This indicates either partial loss of lateral inhibition or a weak proneural phenotype that still permits some neurogenesis to occur. Ato expression was examined to distinguish these possibilities. In kuz clones, Ato protein appears at the same time as it does in neighboring wild-type regions, but it remains at a low level. Posterior to the furrow, small clusters of R8 cells express Ato at a higher level, but many fewer cells do so than in E(spl) clones. This shows that proneural enhancement is affected in kuz mutant clones, but to a lesser degree than in N null clones, so that more cells go on to take the R8 cell fate. An intermediate phenotype associated with small clusters of R8 cells results in combination with the kuz lateral-inhibition defect. This is consistent with a role for processed Dl in proneural enhancement as well as in lateral inhibition, although it is important to note that kuz might have roles besides Dl processing. Such roles might include other aspects of N function (Li, 2001).

EGF repeats 10-12 bind Dl and are important during lateral inhibition because a glutamic acid-to-valine substitution in EGF repeat 12 in the NM1 mutant is embryonic lethal and neurogenic. Clones of NM1 mutant cells in the eye affect proneural enhancement and lateral inhibition, as does kuz, and this finding indicates that Dl interacts with the EGF repeat 12 region of N for proneural enhancement as well as for lateral inhibition (Li, 2001).

Clones mutant for the psn mutation were examined to test whether the novel proneural pathway requires proteolytic processing of N. Clones of psn exhibit an intermediate phenotype. Small patches of R8 cells differentiate, as in NM1 or kuz clones but unlike in E(spl) clones. Ato expression initiates normally but never elevates to the same levels seen in the wild type. Lateral inhibition is deficient in psn clones as judged by the loss of E(spl) expression [E(spl) mDelta], so the intermediate psn phenotype indicates an effect on proneural enhancement in addition (Li, 2001).

In lateral inhibitory signaling, the processed intracellular domain enters the nucleus. Clones mutant for the NCO mutation were examined to test whether proneural enhancement is also mediated by the released intracellular domain or, alternatively, by other parts of the processed protein. In place of Gln-1865, NCO encodes a termination codon that truncates the N intracellular domain close to the transmembrane domain. Eye clones of NCO almost completely lack R8 cells or other neurons. Ato expression is greatly reduced, and only rare R8 cells form posterior to the furrow. Expression of the Senseless protein, a marker for Ato activity, is also greatly reduced, and this finding confirms the failure to establish high levels of Ato expression and function. These results show that the N intracellular domain is required for proneural enhancement. Similar results were obtained with N60g11, which truncates the intracellular domain carboxy-terminal to the ankyrin/CDC repeats (Li, 2001).

It is noteworthy that the NCO phenotype is 'stronger' than clones of the N protein null, in which occasional patches of neurogenesis are seen. If this is attributed to the dominant-negative effect of the protein encoded by NCO, then residual neurogenesis in N null clones must reflect residual N protein, perhaps persisting from before the mitotic recombination event (Li, 2001).

The N intracellular domain converts nuclear Su(H) protein from a transcriptional repressor into a transcriptional activator during lateral inhibition. What is its role in proneural enhancement? It has been concluded that proneural enhancement does not require Su(H) based on the neurogenic phenotype of Su(H) mutant clones. However, the original Su(H) mutants seem not to have eliminated the Su(H) repressor function. Recently, deletion alleles of the Su(H) gene have been recovered that eliminate all Su(H) function (Li, 2001).

Clones homozygous for the Su(H)Delta47 allele are neurogenic, as described previously for other alleles. In addition, however, Su(H)Delta47 mutant cells differentiate prematurely. Ato expression begin earlier in Su(H)Delta47 clones than in neighboring tissue, and it soon reaches high levels. The senseless gene is expressed in response to ato activity. Senseless is also expressed prematurely in Su(H)Delta47 clones. Daughterless protein is ubiquitous but upregulated in ato-expressing cells of the furrow. It was hard to see premature elevation of Daughterless in Su(H)Delta47 clones, and this must be subtle if it occurs (Li, 2001).

Premature differentiation in Su(H)Delta47 clones might be explained if Su(H) normally antagonizes proneural enhancement. Then, in the total absence of Su(H) protein, Ato would enhance prematurely and initiate eye differentiation. Accelerated differentiation would in turn accelerate the progress of the morphogenetic furrow, induce Atonal expression more anteriorly, and begin the cycle again. To investigate the effect of N signaling on this Su(H) function, Dl was misexpressed ahead of the morphogenetic furrow. A transposon insertion in the hairy gene provided GAL4 protein expression. Ato expression is expanded anteriorly throughout the domain of h expression in hGAL4; UAS-Dl eye discs. The sca gene, which is expressed in response to ato activity, is also expressed more anteriorly in response to ectopic Dl. Neural differentiation begins normally in the most posterior part of hGAL4;UAS-Dl eye discs but becomes progressively disorganized more anteriorly as differentiation accelerates (Li, 2001).

The similiarity between activating N signaling ahead of the morphogenetic furrow and deleting Su(H) indicates that N signaling overcomes repression mediated by Su(H). If Su(H) antagonizes proneural enhancement by activating gene transcription, activating N ahead of the furrow should have released the N intracellular domain, elevated gene transcription, and antagonized morphogenetic furrow progression and differentiation, opposite that of what was observed (Li, 2001).

Different forms or complexes of N intracellular domain might be required to antagonize Su(H)-mediated repression during proneural enhancement from those that coactivate Su(H)-mediated gene transcription. The possible role of bib, mam, and neur in proneural enhancement has not been assessed. The bib gene encodes a transmembrane protein required for lateral inhibition in embryonic neurogenesis. Ommatidia that are mutant for bib contain occasional extra photoreceptor cells, and some ommatidia have multiple R8 cells. Ato expression begins and progresses normally, but posterior to the morphogenetic furrow small clusters of two or three cells, instead of single cells as in the wild type, often retain Ato expression. Sections through the adult retinas often reveal ommatidia with extra photoreceptor cell rhabdomeres, both of the R8/R7 small rhabdomere class and of the larger R1-R6 outer photoreceptor class. Since bib affects lateral inhibition only slightly, it is possible that an equally subtle requirement for bib in proneural enhancement might be undetected in these experiments (Li, 2001).

These findings suggest a model for proneural enhancement. The release of N intracellular domain in response to Dl derepresses genes that are repressed by Su(H). The relevant targets do not require Su(H)-mediated transcriptional activation, so deletion of Su(H) mimics N signaling. The mechanism contrasts with lateral inhibition. N signaling provides N intracellular domain as a coactivator for Su(H), which is essential for the transcription of E(spl)-C. Lateral inhibition cannot proceed in the absence of Su(H) because blocking repression by Su(H) is not sufficient for E(spl)-C transcription (Li, 2001).

The ato gene could be a direct target of proneural enhancement. ato regulatory sequences have been examined for activity control regions, but possible repression sites have not been assessed. Another candidate is daughterless, which encodes a bHLH heterodimer partner of Ato that is required for Ato function in eye development. A third candidate is senseless, a zinc finger protein that enhances and maintains proneural gene expression. Expression of ato and sens is prematurely elevated in the absence of Su(H), which is consistent with regulation by Su(H)-R. However, each might depend on Su(H)-R only indirectly because elevated expression of ato or sens requires the function of all three genes (Li, 2001).

Why does proneural enhancement precede lateral inhibition if both depend on Su(H) and nuclear N intracellular domain? (1) Multiple lines of evidence indicate that proneural enhancement requires less N activation than does lateral inhibition. These include the greater sensitivity of lateral inhibition to the Nts mutation, nonautonomous rescue of proneural enhancement by Dl over distances for which lateral inhibition go unrescued, and neurogenesis in N mutant clones due to undetectably low levels of N protein (which is eliminated by dominant-negative protein from the NCO allele). Therefore proneural enhancement is expected to occur sooner in response to N signaling. (2) The evolving transcriptional regulation of ato changes sensitivity to lateral inhibition over time. Even recombinant N intracellular domain expression does not prevent initial ato expression ahead of the furrow, but ato is exquisitely sensitive later when its expression depends on autoregulation (Li, 2001).

The main result of this study is that neural development in the Drosophila eye depends on two functions of the N intracellular domain in response to ligand binding: (1) N relieves Su(H)-mediated repression to enhance ato expression and function and to permit neurogenesis (proneural enhancement); (2) later, another pathway requires N to coactivate Su(H)-dependent E(spl) transcription (lateral inhibition). No genes or regions of N have yet been found to be required to affect one function but not the other. By means of these two functions stimulated by the same ligand, N signaling coordinates the upregulation of ato in proneural cells and represses ato in cells not specified as neural precursor cells, and N restricts neural patterning to a narrow time interval between two distinct modes of repression (Li, 2001).

An enhancer composed of interlocking submodules controls transcriptional autoregulation of Suppressor of Hairless

Positive autoregulation is an effective mechanism for the long-term maintenance of a transcription factor's expression. This strategy is widely deployed in cell lineages, where the autoregulatory factor controls the activity of a battery of genes that constitute the differentiation program of a postmitotic cell type. In Drosophila, the Notch pathway transcription factor Suppressor of Hairless activates its own expression, specifically in the socket cell of external sensory organs, via an autoregulatory enhancer called the ASE. This study shows that the ASE is composed of several enhancer submodules, each of which can independently initiate weak Su(H) autoregulation. Cross-activation by these submodules is critical to ensure that Su(H) rises above a threshold level necessary to activate a maintenance submodule, which then sustains long-term Su(H) autoregulation. Our study reveals the use of interlinked positive-feedback loops to control autoregulation dynamically and provides mechanistic insight into initiation, establishment, and maintenance of the autoregulatory state (Liu, 2014).

Positive autoregulation by a gene encoding a DNA-binding transcription factor is a widely utilized mechanism for insuring the long-term maintenance of the factor's expression, well after the signals and other factors that initiated this activity are no longer present. One common setting in which such prolonged, stable expression of a transcription factor may be especially advantageous is a postmitotic, differentiated cell type. Here, the autoregulatory factor can function as a 'terminal selector,' responsible for driving the coexpression of a battery of downstream genes that constitute the cell's differentiation program (Liu, 2014).

Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) is an ancient, highly conserved protein that acts as the transducing transcription factor for the Notch cell-cell signaling pathway. Functioning in this role, which dates at a minimum to the last common ancestor of demosponges and eumetazoa, Su(H) participates in a huge variety of conditional cell fate specification events in virtually all metazoans (Liu, 2014).

It came as a surprise, then, to find that Su(H) has been coopted in Drosophila for a very different role: acting as an essential regulator of the differentiation of the socket cell, a nonneuronal component of external sensory organs in the fly. Regulation of Notch pathway target genes by Su(H) requires only a low basal level of the protein, which is present broadly or ubiquitously. But in Drosophila, Su(H) is in addition very highly expressed specifically in socket cells, beginning soon after the birth of the cell via the division of the pIIa secondary precursor and continuing stably thereafter. This high level of transcript and protein accumulation from Su(H) is driven by a dedicated transcriptional control module, the autoregulatory socket enhancer (ASE). The ASE lies downstream of the gene, includes eight high-affinity Su(H) binding sites, and mediates a direct positive autoregulation activity specifically in socket cells (Liu, 2014).

Although the fate of the socket cell is specified by Notch signaling, the ASE plays no role in this-indeed, the enhancer's activity does not commence until after the cell's fate has already been determined. Rather, mechanosensory organs in a fly lacking the ASE display severely impaired mechanotransduction, evidently due to defects in socket cell differentiation. In addition, the socket cell autoregulatory activity of Su(H), acting in concert with the socket cell-specific transcription factor Sox15, is also required to prevent deployment of an alternative differentiative program, that of the shaft cell, the socket cell's sister. This is accomplished by repressing expression of shaven (sv), which encodes a high-level regulator of shaft cell differentiation (Liu, 2014).

A previous study revealed that the ASE is initially activated by the Notch signaling event that specifies the socket cell fate. Here, a low level of Notch-stimulated Su(H) functions cooperatively with certain 'local activators' that are expressed in both the socket and shaft cells. By contrast, the long-term maintenance of high-level Su(H) autoregulation was found to be independent of Notch (Liu, 2014).

Despite the prevalence of positive autoregulation by transcription factor-encoding genes as a developmental control strategy, the specific mechanisms by which the autoregulatory state is initiated, established, and maintained have not been studied in detail. The Su(H) ASE was chosen as a model for investigating this question. Dissecting a direct transcriptional autoregulatory activity necessitates separately analyzing the associated enhancer's ability to respond to the normal wild-type context, with its normal level of the autoregulatory factor (e.g., by examining the expression of reporter transgene variants in a wild-type background) and its ability to establish the autoregulatory state (e.g., by examining levels of the autoregulatory factor generated by genomic rescue construct variants in a genetic background lacking the function of the autoregulatory gene). These two capabilities were studied in detail in exploring the ASE's mechanism of operation (Liu, 2014).

Counter to the expectation that the ASE functions as a single modular enhancer unit, this investigation reveals that it is instead composed of several overlapping structural and functional elements that are referred to as enhancer submodules, each of which can independently become active in the differentiating socket cell. Moreover, because each of the ASE's submodules contains one or a few Su(H) binding sites, together they form several interlinked positive feedback loops with the Su(H) gene. Interestingly, not all of the ASE's autoregulatory submodules respond to Su(H) equally: although some are activated by a low level of Su(H), others require much higher levels. As a result, the different submodules are deployed in succession: first to initiate a low-level autoregulatory activity, then to establish the autoregulatory state by exceeding a threshold level of Su(H), and finally to 'lock down' a permanent high-level maintenance function. A coherent model is proposed that explains how the ASE rapidly translates an initiating Notch pathway input signal into a highly elevated and irreversible level of Su(H) expression, specifically in the developing socket cell. It is suggested that enhancer subfunctionalization via enhancer submodules may be a generalizable mechanism for integrating inputs from a suite of dynamically expressed trans-regulators into a stable gene expression state (Liu, 2014).

This study has systematically dissected the functional organization of the autoregulatory socket enhancer (ASE) of the Drosophila Su(H) gene, which controls the long-term transcriptional autoactivation of Su(H) specifically in the socket cell of external sensory organs. Based on these experiments, a dynamic model is proposed to explain how Su(H) autoregulation is controlled (Liu, 2014).

It is suggested that, within a short time window (0–2 hr) after the division of the pIIa secondary precursor cell, the ASE receives certain 'local activator' inputs in both postmitotic daughter cells via the YZW fragment; at the same time, the ASE is silenced by the repressive activity of basal levels of Su(H), via the two flanking clusters of high-affinity Su(H) binding sites, S2-S6 and S7-S9. Next, the incoming Notch signal that specifies the socket cell fate converts Su(H) into a transcriptional activator in this cell; Su(H) then synergizes with the early inputs on YZW to activate two enhancer submodules, ASE5Y and ZW3S, to trigger a rapid rise in Su(H) transcription. Simultaneously, YZW may contribute independently to the activity of Su(H). The activation of these three submodules marks the initiation of the ASE-Su(H) autoregulatory loop (Liu, 2014).

Later, about 4 hr after the socket cell is born, the accumulated level of Su(H) rises above a certain threshold and feeds back on the ASE to activate two Su(H) response elements, ASE5 and W3S, the activities of which are strictly Su(H) concentration dependent. Moreover, at least for ASE5, Su(H) must synergize with two other activator inputs that are mediated by the A-motif and several high-affinity Vvl binding motifs. The activation of ASE5 and W3S marks the time when the ASE-Su(H) autoregulatory loop is fully established (Liu, 2014).

Finally, as the socket cell differentiates, the factors acting upon Y and Z disappear from the socket cell, leading to the inactivation of the three submodules (ASE5Y, YZW, and ZW3S) that are responsible for the initiation of Su(H) autoregulation. However, one of the Su(H) response elements, ASE5, remains strongly active and maintains the autoregulatory loop into adulthood. The other Su(H) response element, W3S, is silent at this stage, evidently due to a late repression function of the adjacent sequences (Liu, 2014).

Another important dynamic element is embodied in the above model. Su(H) is seen to play an essential role in all three phases of Su(H) autoregulation in the socket cell-initiation, establishment, and maintenance. In the first step, initiation, Su(H) is already present at its low basal level; here, it is fully dependent on Notch signaling, which converts it from a repressor to an activator. But in the long-term maintenance phase, when Su(H) is present at a high level in the socket cell, it acts independently of Notch, possibly employing a distinct coactivator. Thus, the transition from low-level initiation to high-level maintenance in Su(H) autoregulation involves a transition from a Notch-dependent to a Notch-independent mode of action for Su(H) and the ASE (Liu, 2014).

An enhancer module is typically defined as a discrete genomic fragment capable of driving a specific pattern of gene transcription (with respect to location, time, and level). Most studies of enhancer function have accordingly treated each such module as a unit and have focused on its integrative capacity; namely, the enhancer's ability to synthesize multiple transcription factor inputs, both positive and negative, into a single transcriptional output (Liu, 2014).

Detailed functional analysis of the ASE has revealed a more complex picture that emphasizes enhancer substructure. This study has found that different component fragments of the full ASE have distinct functional roles to play in the initiation, establishment, and maintenance of cell-type-specific Su(H) autoregulation. One might perhaps conceive of these component fragments as discrete enhancer modules themselves, but as this study has shown, their boundaries often overlap (for example, ASE5 and W3S are respectively embedded within ASE5Y and ZW3S), and in any case they all help generate the same output -- continuous, elevated expression of Su(H) in the socket cell. Therefore, it is suggested that it is conceptually more useful to think of the ASE as a single enhancer composed of several enhancer submodules that are functionally distinct, but not clearly separable physically. In a highly dynamic manner, each submodule makes an important contribution to the overall spatial, temporal, and quantitative cis-regulatory activity of the full enhancer. Conversely, the ASE's architecture gives it the ability to integrate these multiple regulatory contributions into a stably progressing temporal pattern of Su(H) expression in the differentiating socket cell, a context in which both the external stimuli and the internal gene expression profile undergo dramatic changes. Such a sophisticated integration capacity has been observed previously for the control of some genes by a cohort of separate enhancer modules, but this study shows that even a single enhancer may employ this strategy using a compact set of submodules (Liu, 2014).

Finally, it is suggested that dividing the ASE's various activities among multiple functionally connected, and partially redundant, submodules confers on the enhancer considerable evolutionary flexibility to fine-tune almost every aspect of its function (time, space, and level). The successive employment of distinct submodules allows the ASE's activity at different stages to be modified separately by mutational changes within individual submodules. Likewise, the partially redundant functions of the ASE5Y and ZW3S initiation submodules allow each to undergo separate changes in a context in which the ASE's activity is buffered by the other submodule (Liu, 2014).

A particularly notable feature of the ASE is that each of its submodules contains one or a few Su(H) binding sites. Because each submodule can activate Su(H) transcription independently, and at the same time can respond to direct activation by Su(H), the reciprocal interaction between the ASE and Su(H) comprises not one, but several, interlinked positive feedback loops. Furthermore, due in part to the requirement for different levels of Su(H) for sub-module activation, the feedback loops between the ASE and Su(H) are interlinked in three distinct layers. The first linkage occurs among the ASE's three initiation submodules (ASE5Y, YZW, and ZW3S), which cooperate to drive Su(H) expression above its basal level. The second linkage is between the initiation submodules and the two Su(H) response elements (ASE5 and W3S), because the activities of the former group are responsible for generating the high level of Su(H) required to activate the latter. The third linkage occurs between the two Su(H) response elements themselves: when they are activated by high levels of Su(H), each then acts as a discrete Su(H) autoregulatory enhancer to reinforce the other's activity via the feedback input from Su(H). The logic of this system is evident: once a certain threshold level of Su(H) expression is established by the linked initiation submodules of the ASE, it can be quickly 'locked down' by the linked autoregulatory functions of the Su(H) response elements (Liu, 2014).

Recent studies have suggested that, in comparison with single positive feedback loops, interlinked positive feedback loops with different time constants are less sensitive to background noise and more effective at mediating rapid irreversible gene activation. It is suggested that the ASE represents a transcriptional implementation of this paradigm. For example, when the function of one of the ASE's initiation submodules is removed, Su(H) autoregulation can still be established, but the process is either fast-and-reversible (e.g., RC-ASE3) or slow-and-irreversible (e.g., RC-ASE5Y). Thus, whereas a simpler module might indeed be capable of establishing Su(H) autoregulation per se, the interlinked feedback loops of the ASE ensure that this happens rapidly and robustly, in a switch-like manner (Liu, 2014).


GENE STRUCTURE

Bases in 5' UTR - 428 bp

Bases in 3' UTR - four polyadenylation signals 711bp


PROTEIN STRUCTURE

Amino Acids - 594

Structural Domains

Suppressor of Hairless is 82% homologous to mouse J kappa-recombination-signal-binding-protein (JkRBP; a misnomer as it was thought to be a recombination protein). Supressor of Hairless, also known as CSL (CBF-1 / SuH / Lag-1), is the nuclear effector of the Notch signaling pathway and is 68% conserved with the human ortholog CBF-1. It is a three domain protein consisting of an N-terminal Rel homology region (NTD), a Beta-trefoil domain (BTD), and a C-terminal Rel homology region (CTD). The NTD and BTD mediate interactions with DNA, while the BTD and CTD mediate interactions with the intracellular domain of Notch and the NTD and CTD mediate interactions with the transcriptional coactivator Mastermind.


Suppressor of Hairless: Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Protein Interactions | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References

date revised: 20 March 2001 

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