Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 229, Issue 1, pp 13–24 | Cite as

The Notch repressor complex in Drosophila: in vivo analysis of Hairless mutants using overexpression experiments

  • Thomas K. Smylla
  • Markus Meier
  • Anette Preiss
  • Dieter MaierEmail author
Original Article


During development of higher animals, the Notch signalling pathway governs cell type specification by mediating appropriate gene expression responses. In the absence of signalling, Notch target genes are silenced by repressor complexes. In the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, the repressor complex includes the transcription factor Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)] and Hairless (H) plus general co-repressors. Recent crystal structure analysis of the Drosophila Notch repressor revealed details of the Su(H)-H complex. They were confirmed by mutational analyses of either protein; however, only Su(H) mutants have been further studied in vivo. Here, we analyse three H variants predicted to affect Su(H) binding. To this end, amino acid replacements Phenylalanine 237, Leucines 245 and 247, as well as Tryptophan 258 to Alanine were introduced into the H protein. A cell-based reporter assay indicates substantial loss of Su(H) binding to the respective mutant proteins HFA, HLLAA and HWA. For in vivo analysis, UAS-lines HFA, HLLAA and HWA were generated to allow spatially restricted overexpression. In these assays, all three mutants resembled the HLD control, shown before to lack Su(H) binding, indicating a strong reduction of H activity. For example, the H variants were impaired in wing margin formation, but unexpectedly induced ectopic wing venation. Concurrent overexpression with Su(H), however, suggests that all mutant H protein isoforms are still able to bind Su(H) in vivo. We conclude that a weakening of the cohesion in the H-Su(H) repressor complex is sufficient for disrupting its in vivo functionality.


Drosophila melanogaster Notch antagonist Hairless Notch signalling Notch repression Repressor complex Suppressor of Hairless Overexpression 



We are indebted to Rafael Saup for establishing the NTCTLL245/247AA replacement mutation, to Adriana Schulz, Helena Mastel and Thomas Stößer for technical assistance and to Anja C. Nagel for critical reading of the manuscript, manifold input and discussions.

Author’s contributions

D.M. and A.P. conceived and designed the experiments; T.K.S., M.M., and D.M. conducted the experiments, T.K.S., M.M., A.P. and D.M. collected and analysed the data and performed the statistical analysis; A.P. wrote the manuscript; and all authors have approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by grants from the German Science Foundation to DM (MA 1328/10-1 and MA 1328/11-1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für GenetikUniversität HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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