Guanine-rich and cytosine-rich DNA can form four-stranded DNA secondary structures called G-quadruplex (G4) and i-motif, respectively. These structures widely exist in genomes and play important roles in transcription, replication, translation and protection of telomeres. In this study, G4 and i-motif structures were identified in the promoter of the transcription factor gene BmPOUM2, which regulates the expression of the wing disc cuticle protein gene (BmWCP4) during metamorphosis. Disruption of the i-motif structure by base mutation, anti-sense oligonucleotides (ASOs) or inhibitory ligands resulted in significant decrease in the activity of the BmPOUM2 promoter. A novel i-motif binding protein (BmILF) was identified by pull-down experiment. BmILF specifically bound to the i-motif and activated the transcription of BmPOUM2. The promoter activity of BmPOUM2 was enhanced when BmILF was over-expressed and decreased when BmILF was knocked-down by RNA interference. This study for the first time demonstrated that BmILF and the i-motif structure participated in the regulation of gene transcription in insect metamorphosis and provides new insights into the molecular mechanism of the secondary structures in epigenetic regulation of gene transcription.

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Published in Nucleic Acids Research, v. 46, issue 4, gkx1207, p. 1710-1723.

© The Author(s) 2017.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com

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Chinese National Natural Science Foundation [31330071, 31672494, 31720103916, 2012CB114602]. Funding for open access charge: South China Normal University.

Related Content

The amino acid sequence of the transcription factor BmILF is deposited in GenBank (GenBank accession no.: KY082711).

Supplementary Data are available at NAR Online.

gkx1207_supp.pdf (964 kB)
Supplementary Data