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Gene. 2010 Jan 15;450(1-2):25-31. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2009.09.015.

The Idefix enhancer-blocking insulator also harbors barrier activity.

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GReD laboratory, UMR/CNRS, 6247, Clermont Université, INSERM U931, BP38, 63001 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Chromatin insulators are cis-regulatory sequences participating in the regulation of gene expression. Their presence within the genome is associated with two main functions. One of them is an enhancer-blocking function that blocks enhancer-promoter communication when the insulator is located in between. The second is a boundary or barrier function that insulates independent units of transcription. This latter is observed when two insulators flanking a gene and its regulatory sequences block the regulatory influences of surrounding chromatin. Some years ago, we reported the presence of an insulator within the retrotransposon Idefix from Drosophila melanogaster. This insulator displays an enhancer-blocking activity toward an enhancer located within a second retrotransposon called ZAM. Here, we show that this insulator is not specific to the ZAM enhancer but has the capacity to interfere in the communication established between a broad range of cis-regulatory enhancer and a promoter. Furthermore, we show that, if it is placed on both sides of a transgene, this insulator acts as a barrier able to isolate the transgene from its repressive or enhancing environment. Thus, the Idefix insulator carries both an enhancer-blocking and a barrier activity. According to these properties, the Idefix insulator might prove to be a useful tool to isolate artificial transgenes from positive or negative influences from their integration sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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