© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) is an evolutionarily conserved protein across different eukaryotic species and is crucial for heterochromatin establishment and maintenance. The silkworm, Bombyx mori, encodes two HP1 proteins, BmHP1a and BmHP1b. In order to investigate the role of BmHP1a in transcriptional regulation, we performed genome-wide analyses of the transcriptome, transcription start sites (TSSs), chromatin modification states and BmHP1a-binding sites of the silkworm ovary-derived BmN4 cell line. We identified a number of BmHP1a-binding loci throughout the silkworm genome and found that these loci included TSSs and frequently co-occurred with neighboring euchromatic histone modifications. In addition, we observed that genes with BmHP1a-associated TSSs were relatively highly expressed in BmN4 cells. RNA interference-mediated BmHP1a depletion resulted in the transcriptional repression of highly expressed genes with BmHP1a-associated TSSs, whereas genes not coupled with BmHP1a-binding regions were less affected by the treatment. These results demonstrate that BmHP1a binds near TSSs of highly expressed euchromatic genes and positively regulates their expression. Our study revealed a novel mode of transcriptional regulation mediated by HP1 proteins.