Telomere is protected by its G-quadruplex, T-loop structure, telomerase, and binding protein complex. Protein POT1 (protection of telomeres 1) is one subunit of telomere binding protein complex Shelterin. POT1 acts as a regulator of telomerase-dependent telomere length, and it can help telomere to form D-loop structure to stabilize telomere. POT1 protects telomere ends from ATR-dependent DNA damage response as well.
Extensive methods were used, including CD, EMSA, ITC, PCR stop assay, luciferase reporter assay, quantitative real-time PCR, Western blot, chromatin immunoprecipitation (Ch-IP), cloning, expression and purification of proteins.
We found a new G-rich 30-base-pair long sequence (P-pot1 G18) located from -165 to -136 base pairs upstream of the translation starting site of protein POT1. This sequence in the promoter region of pot1 gene formed G-quadruplex resulting in down-regulation of pot1 gene transcription. This G-rich sequence is close to a binding site "TCCC" for transcription factor hnRNP K (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K), and its conversion to G-quadruplex prevented the access of hnRNP K to this binding site. The binding of hnRNP K could up-regulate pot1 gene transcription. TMPyP4 (meso-tetra(N-methyl-4-pyridyl)porphine) has been widely used as G-quadruplex binding ligand, which stabilized the G-quadruplex in vitro and in cellulo, resulting in down-regulation of pot1 gene transcription.
This G-quadruplex might become a potentially new drug target for antitumor agents.
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Our results first demonstrated that G-quadruplex formation can affect the binding of transcription factor to its nearby binding site, and thus making additional influence to gene transcription.