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Neuron. 2011 Jun 23;70(6):1071-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.05.027.

CTCF regulates ataxin-7 expression through promotion of a convergently transcribed, antisense noncoding RNA.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by CAG/polyglutamine repeat expansions in the ataxin-7 gene. Ataxin-7 is a component of two different transcription coactivator complexes, and recent work indicates that disease protein normal function is altered in polyglutamine neurodegeneration. Given this, we studied how ataxin-7 gene expression is regulated. The ataxin-7 repeat and translation start site are flanked by binding sites for CTCF, a highly conserved multifunctional transcription regulator. When we analyzed this region, we discovered an adjacent alternative promoter and a convergently transcribed antisense noncoding RNA, SCAANT1. To understand how CTCF regulates ataxin-7 gene expression, we introduced ataxin-7 mini-genes into mice, and found that CTCF is required for SCAANT1 expression. Loss of SCAANT1 derepressed ataxin-7 sense transcription in a cis-dependent fashion and was accompanied by chromatin remodeling. Discovery of this pathway underscores the importance of altered epigenetic regulation for disease pathology at repeat loci exhibiting bidirectional transcription.

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