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The endocycle is a variant cell cycle comprised of alternating gap (G) and DNA synthesis (S) phases (endoreplication) without mitosis (M), which results in DNA polyploidy and large cell size. Endocycles occur widely in nature, but much remains to be learned about the regulation of this modified cell cycle. Here, we compared gene expression profiles of mitotic cycling larval brain and disc cells with the endocycling cells of fat body and salivary gland of the Drosophila larva. The results indicated that many genes that are positively regulated by the heterodimeric E2F1–DP or Myb–MuvB complex transcription factors are expressed at lower levels in endocycling cells. Many of these target genes have functions in M phase, suggesting that dampened E2F1 and Myb activity promote endocycles. Many other E2F1 target genes that are required for DNA replication were also repressed in endocycling cells, an unexpected result given that these cells must duplicate up to thousands of genome copies during each S phase. For some EF2-regulated genes, the lower level of mRNA in endocycling cells resulted in lower protein concentration, whereas for other genes it did not, suggesting a contribution of post-transcriptional regulation. Both knockdown and overexpression of E2F1–DP and Myb–MuvB impaired endocycles, indicating that transcriptional activation and repression must be balanced. Our data suggest that dampened transcriptional activation by E2F1–DP and Myb–MuvB is important to repress mitosis and coordinate the endocycle transcriptional and protein stability oscillators.

  • Accepted August 9, 2010.
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