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Mol Cell Biol. Mar 1997; 17(3): 1281–1288.
PMCID: PMC231853

Negative protein 1, which is required for function of the chicken lysozyme gene silencer in conjunction with hormone receptors, is identical to the multivalent zinc finger repressor CTCF.


The transcriptional repressor negative protein 1 (NeP1) binds specifically to the F1 element of the chicken lysozyme gene silencer and mediates synergistic repression by v-ERBA, thyroid hormone receptor, or retinoic acid receptor. Another protein, CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), specifically binds to 50-bp-long sequences that contain repetitive CCCTC elements in the vicinity of vertebrate c-myc genes. Previously cloned chicken, mouse, and human CTCF cDNAs encode a highly conserved 11-Zn-finger protein. Here, NeP1 was purified and DNA bases critical for NeP1-F1 interaction were determined. NeP1 is found to bind a 50-bp stretch of nucleotides without any obvious sequence similarity to known CTCF binding sequences. Despite this remarkable difference, these two proteins are identical. They have the same molecular weight, and NeP1 contains peptide sequences which are identical to sequences in CTCF. Moreover, NeP1 and CTCF specifically recognize each other's binding DNA sequence and induce identical conformational alterations in the F1 DNA. Therefore, we propose to replace the name NeP1 with CTCF. To analyze the puzzling sequence divergence in CTCF binding sites, we studied the DNA binding of 12 CTCF deletions with serially truncated Zn fingers. While fingers 4 to 11 are indispensable for CTCF binding to the human c-myc P2 promoter site A, a completely different combination of fingers, namely, 1 to 8 or 5 to 11, was sufficient to bind the lysozyme silencer site F1. Thus, CTCF is a true multivalent factor with multiple repressive functions and multiple sequence specificities.

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Selected References

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