Bringing distant DNA together
Published on Nature Chemical Biology (22 January 2021)

Author(s): Haizhon Zhao & Chun Kit Kwok*

Yin Yang 1 (YY1) is a transcription factor involved in gene regulation. A recent study has revealed G-quadruplex structures as novel binding targets of YY1, and their interactions regulate DNA looping and gene expression.


Emerging studies have indicated that besides the classical double-helical structure, DNA can also adopt an unconventional four-stranded structure referred to as G-quadruplex (G4) in vivo1. G4s are composed of G-quartets interconnected by loop nucleotides (Fig. 1a), and cellular formation of G4s has been demonstrated to play key roles in transcription, genomic and epigenetic instability, aging processes, and cancer development2. As the diverse functions of G4s are often governed by their interaction with G4-binding proteins, studies in recent years have been focused on identifying G4-binding proteins2,3; however, their biochemical and mechanistic roles are still not well characterized. In this issue, Li et al.4 identified Yin Yang 1 (YY1) as a novel G4-binding protein that directly interacts with the G4 structure and revealed that such YY1–G4 interaction contributed to long-range DNA looping and regulated the expression of proximal and distal genes (Fig. 1b).





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