The Sex combs reduced gene of the Antennapedia complex specifies the identities of the anterior thoracic and posterior head segments, including the primordium of the larval salivary gland. The Sex combs reduced transcription unit spans over 30 kb of genomic DNA, with another 40 kb of upstream cis-regulatory sequences. The pattern of Sex combs reduced transcription is set in the early embryo by the segmentation genes and is then maintained by two competing sets of proteins, the Polycomb group and the trithorax group. One of the trithorax group genes required for activation, the brahma gene, encodes an evolutionarily conserved DNA-stimulated ATPase that is part of a large protein complex. This complex facilitates the action of sequence-specific, DNA-binding proteins in regulating target genes, possibly by altering chromatin structure.