Proneural bHLH proteins are transcriptional regulators of neural fate specification. Extra macrochaetae (Emc) forms inactive heterodimers with both proneural bHLH proteins and their bHLH partners (represented in Drosophila by Daughterless). It is generally thought that varying levels of Emc define a prepattern that determines where proneural bHLH genes can be effective. We report that instead it is the bHLH proteins that determine the pattern of Emc levels. Daughterless level sets Emc protein levels in most cells, apparently by stabilizing Emc in heterodimers. Emc is destabilized in proneural regions by local competition for heterodimer formation by proneural bHLH proteins including Atonal or AS-C proteins. Reflecting this post-translational control through protein stability, uniform emc transcription is sufficient for almost normal patterns of neurogenesis. Protein stability regulated by exchanges between bHLH protein dimers could be a feature of bHLH-mediated developmental events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)