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Curr Biol. 2000 Jul 13;10(14):853-6.

Functional association of CTCF with the insulator upstream of the H19 gene is parent of origin-specific and methylation-sensitive.

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Department of Development and Genetics, Uppsala University, Uppsala, S-75236, Sweden.


In mammals, a subset of genes inherit gametic marks that establish parent of origin-dependent expression patterns in the soma ([1] and references therein). The currently most extensively studied examples of this phenomenon, termed genomic imprinting, are the physically linked Igf2 (insulin-like growth factor II) and H19 genes, which are expressed mono-allelically from opposite parental alleles [1] [2]. The repressed status of the maternal Igf2 allele is due to cis elements that prevent the H19 enhancers [3] from accessing the Igf2 promoters on the maternal chromosome [4] [5]. A differentially methylated domain (DMD) in the 5' flank of H19 is maintained paternally methylated and maternally unmethylated [6] [7]. We show here by gel-shift and chromatin immunopurification analyses that binding of the highly conserved multivalent factor CTCF ([8] [9] and references therein) to the H19 DMD is methylation-sensitive and parent of origin-dependent. Selectively mutating CTCF-contacting nucleotides, which were identified by methylation interference within the extended binding sites initially revealed by nuclease footprinting, abrogated the H19 DMD enhancer-blocking property. These observations suggest that molecular mechanisms of genomic imprinting may use an unusual ability of CTCF to interact with a diverse spectrum of variant target sites, some of which include CpGs that are responsible for methylation-sensitive CTCF binding in vitro and in vivo.

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