Diapause hormone (DH) and PBAN (pheromone biosynthesis-activating neuropeptide) are two important insect neuropeptides regulating development and reproduction respectively. In the present study, we report two Bombyx mori transcription factors interacting specifically with the promoter of Bom-DH-PBAN (where Bom-DH stands for B. mori DH); we named them DHMBP-1 and -2 (DH-modulator-binding proteins 1 and 2). The developmental changes of DHMBP-1/-2 are closely correlated with that of Bom-DH-PBAN mRNA throughout the pupal stage. Competition assays indicate that DHMBP-1 from Chinese B. mori possesses binding characteristics similar to those of the POU-M1 protein from Japanese B. mori. POU-M1 cDNAs were cloned from various tissues of Chinese B. mori and were found to be distinct from the previously published POU-M1 in amino acid residues 108–136 because of insertion mutations. Owing to this difference in amino acid residues, we named this cDNA POU-M2. Even though POU-M2 differs from POU-M1 at the N-terminal, the POU domain and the binding properties of both POU-M1 and -M2 are the same. Functional analysis showed that overexpression of POU-M2 in the Bombyx cell line BmN activated the promoter of Bom-DH-PBAN, but failed to activate a promoter in which the POU-binding element was mutated. The transcriptional activity of POU-M2 is probably regulated by other factors binding to the upstream of the promoter sequence. We show that the POU-M2-binding site was able to activate the transcription of a heterologous promoter of the gene encoding B. mori larval serum protein. POU-M1 was found to exhibit the same transcriptional activities as POU-M2. Taken together, these results demonstrate that POU-M2 plays an important role in the transcriptional regulation of the Bom-DH-PBAN gene.

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