The bithorax gene complex in Drosophila contains a minimum of eight genes that seem to code for substances controlling levels of thoracic and abdominal development. The state of repression of at least four of these genes is controlled by cis-regulatory elements and a separate locus (Polycomb) seems to code for a repressor of the complex. The wild-type and mutant segmentation patterns are consistent with an antero-posterior gradient in repressor concentration along the embryo and a proximo-distal gradient along the chromosome in the affinities for repressor of each gene's cis-regulatory element.
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