Jumonji (JmjC) domain proteins influence gene expression and chromatin organization by way of histone demethylation, which provides a means to regulate the activity of genes across the genome. JmjC proteins have been associated with many human diseases including various cancers, developmental and neurological disorders, however, the shared biology and possible common contribution to organismal development and tissue homeostasis of all JmjC proteins remains unclear. Here, we systematically tested the function of all 13 Drosophila JmjC genes. Generation of molecularly defined null mutants revealed that loss of 8 out of 13 JmjC genes modify position effect variegation (PEV) phenotypes, consistent with their ascribed role in regulating chromatin organization. However, most JmjC genes do not critically regulate development, as 10 members are viable and fertile with no obvious developmental defects. Rather, we find that different JmjC mutants specifically alter the phenotypic outcomes in various sensitized genetic backgrounds. Our data demonstrate that, rather than controlling essential gene expression programs, Drosophila JmjC proteins generally act to "fine-tune" different biological processes.
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