Studies from diverse systems have shown that distinct interchromosomal interactions are a central component of nuclear organization. In some cases, these interactions allow an enhancer to act in trans, modulating the expression of a gene encoded on a separate chromosome held in close proximity. Despite recent advances in uncovering such phenomena, our understanding of how a regulatory element acts on another chromosome remains incomplete. Here, we describe a transgenic approach to better understand enhancer action in trans in Drosophila melanogaster. Using phiC31-based recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE), we placed transgenes carrying combinations of the simple enhancer GMR, a minimal promoter, and different fluorescent reporters at equivalent positions on homologous chromosomes so that they would pair via the endogenous somatic pairing machinery of Drosophila. Our data demonstrate that the enhancer GMR is capable of activating a promoter in trans and does so in a variegated pattern, suggesting stochastic interactions between the enhancer and the promoter when they are carried on separate chromosomes. Furthermore, we quantitatively assessed the impact of two concurrent promoter targets in cis and in trans to GMR, demonstrating that each promoter is capable of competing for the enhancer's activity, with the presence of one negatively affecting expression from the other. Finally, the single-cell resolution afforded by our approach allowed us to show that promoters in cis and in trans to GMR can both be activated in the same nucleus, implying that a single enhancer can share its activity between multiple promoter targets carried on separate chromosomes. © 2012 by the Genetics Society of America.
Bateman, Jack R.; Johnson, Justine E.; and Locke, Melissa N., "Comparing enhancer action in cis and in trans" (2012). Biology Faculty Publications. 18.