The role of CTCF in coordinating the expression of single gene loci

Gillen, A. E.; Harris, A.

Biochem Cell Biol. 2011 Sep 16; 89(5):489-94


The CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), which binds insulator elements in vertebrates, also facilitates coordinated gene expression at several gene clusters, including the beta-globin, Igf2/H19 (insulin like growth factor 2/H19 noncoding RNA), and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II loci. CTCF controls expression of these genes both by enabling insulator function and facilitating higher order chromatin interactions. While the role of CTCF in gene regulation is best studied at these multi-gene loci, there is also evidence that CTCF contributes to the regulated expression of single genes. Here, we discuss how CTCF participates in coordinating gene expression at the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) and IFNG (interferon-gamma) loci. We consider the structural similarities between the loci with regard to CTCF-binding elements, the possible interaction between nuclear receptors and CTCF, and the role of CTCF in chromatin looping at these genes. These comparisons reveal a functional model that may be applicable to other single-gene loci that require CTCF for coordinated gene expression.

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