The Veitia Lab recently published a new article in Nucleic Acids Research :
Transcription factors contain a DNA-binding domain ensuring specific recognition of DNA target sequences. The family of forkhead (FOX) transcription factors is composed of dozens of paralogs in mammals. The forkhead domain (FHD) is a segment of about 100 amino acids that binds an A-rich DNA sequence. Using DNA and RNA PCR-SELEX, we show that recombinant FOXL2 proteins, either wild-type or carrying the oncogenic variant C134W, recognize similar DNA-binding sites. This suggests that the oncogenic variant does not alter the intrinsic sequence-specificity of FOXL2. Most importantly, we show that FOXL2 binds G2-rich RNA sequences whereas it virtually fails to bind similar sequences in DNA chemistry. Interestingly, a statistically significant subset of genes responding to the knock-down of FOXL2/Foxl2 harbor such G2-rich sequences and are involved in crucial signaling pathways and cellular processes. In addition, we show that FOXA1, FOXO3a and chimeric FOXL2 proteins containing the FHD of the former are also able to interact with some of the preferred FOXL2-binding sequences. Our results point to an unexpected and novel characteristic of the forkhead domain, the biological relevance of which remains to be explored.
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