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Identification and functional characterization of methyl-CpG binding domain protein from Tribolium castaneum

Song, Xiaowen, Zhang, Yuemei, Zhong, Qisheng, Zhan, Keming, Bi, Jingxiu, Tang, Jing, Xie, Jia, Li, Bin
Genomics 2019
DNA methylation, RNA interference, Tribolium castaneum, adults, epigenetics, fecundity, gastrointestinal system, genes, insects, larvae, mammals, mechanism of action, metamorphosis, neurodegenerative diseases, phenotype, proteins, pupae
Methyl-CpG binding domain proteins (MBD) can specifically bind to methylated CpG sites and play important roles in epigenetic gene regulation. Here, we identified and functionally characterized the MBD protein in Tribolium castaneum. T. castaneum genome encodes only one MBD protein: TcMBD2/3. RNA interference targeting this gene at different developmental stages caused lethal phenotypes including metamorphosis deficiency in larvae and pupae, gastrointestinal system problems and fecundity deficiency in adult. Moreover, Tcmbd2/3 knockdown adult showed progressive reduced locomoter activity, a typical neurodegeneration phenotype. This is a common feature of DNA methylation in mammals and has not been found in other insects. However, band shift assays demonstrated that TcMBD2/3 could not bind to methylated DNA, indicating the essential roles of TcMBD2/3 is independent of DNA methylation. Our study provides Tcmbd2/3 plays important roles in T. castaneum and gives new insights into the potential mechanism of action of MBD proteins in insect.