DREF was first characterized for its role in the regulation of transcription of genes encoding proteins involved in DNA replication and found to interact with sequences similar to the DNA recognition motif of the BEAF-32 insulator protein. Insulators are DNA-protein complexes that mediate intra- and inter-chromosome interactions. Several DNA-binding insulator proteins have been described in Drosophila, including BEAF-32, dCTCF and Su(Hw). Here we find that DREF and BEAF-32 co-localize at the same genomic sites, but their enrichment shows an inverse correlation. Furthermore, DREF co-localizes in the genome with other insulator proteins, suggesting that the function of this protein may require components of Drosophila insulators. This is supported by the finding that mutations in insulator proteins modulate DREF-induced cell proliferation. DREF persists bound to chromatin during mitosis at a subset of sites where it also co-localizes with dCTCF, BEAF-32 and CP190. These sites are highly enriched for sites where Orc2 and Mcm2 are present during interphase and at the borders of topological domains of chromosomes defined by Hi-C. The results suggest that DREF and insulator proteins may help maintain chromosome organization during the cell cycle and mark a subset of genomic sites for the assembly of pre-replication complexes and gene bookmarking during the M/G1 transition.
Keywords: cell cycle; chromatin; epigenetics; mitosis; replication; transcription.