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Genes Dev. 2003 Mar 1;17(5):586-90.

The nucleotides responsible for the direct physical contact between the chromatin insulator protein CTCF and the H19 imprinting control region manifest parent of origin-specific long-distance insulation and methylation-free domains.

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Department of Development & Genetics, Evolution Biology Centre, Uppsala University, S-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.


The repression of the maternally inherited Igf2 allele has been proposed to depend on a methylation-sensitive chromatin insulator organized by the 11 zinc finger protein CTCF at the H19 imprinting control region (ICR). Here we document that point mutations of the nucleotides in physical contact with CTCF within the endogenous H19 ICR lead to loss of CTCF binding and Igf2 imprinting only when passaged through the female germline. This effect is accompanied by a significant loss of methylation protection of the maternally derived H19 ICR. Because CTCF interacts with other imprinting control regions, it emerges as a central factor responsible for interpreting and propagating gamete-derived epigenetic marks and for organizing epigenetically controlled expression domains.

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