GAGA factor: a multifunctional pioneering chromatin protein.
The Drosophila GAGA factor (GAF) is a multifunctional protein implicated in nucleosome organization and remodeling, activation and repression of gene expression, long distance enhancer-promoter communication, higher order chromosome structure, and mitosis. This broad range of activities poses questions about how a single protein can perform so many seemingly different and unrelated functions. Current studies argue that GAF acts as a "pioneer" factor, generating nucleosome-free regions of chromatin for different classes of regulatory elements. The removal of nucleosomes from regulatory elements in turn enables other factors to bind to these elements and carry out their specialized functions. Consistent with this view, GAF associates with a collection of chromatin remodelers and also interacts with proteins implicated in different regulatory functions. In this review, we summarize the known activities of GAF and the functions of its protein partners.