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Nucleus. 2018 Jan 1;9(1):33-41. doi: 10.1080/19491034.2017.1394536. Epub 2017 Dec 5.

Discovering a binary CTCF code with a little help from BORIS.

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a Molecular Pathology Section, Laboratory of Immunogenetics, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health , 5601 Fishers Ln, Rockville , MD , USA.
b Department of Biology , Indiana University , 915 E 3rd St, Bloomington , IN 47405 , USA.


CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is a conserved, essential regulator of chromatin architecture containing a unique array of 11 zinc fingers (ZFs). Gene duplication and sequence divergence during early amniote evolution generated the CTCF paralog Brother Of the Regulator of Imprinted Sites (BORIS), which has a DNA binding specificity identical to that of CTCF but divergent N- and C-termini. While healthy somatic tissues express only CTCF, CTCF and BORIS are normally co-expressed in meiotic and post-meiotic germ cells, and aberrant activation of BORIS occurs in tumors and some cancer cell lines. This has led to a model in which CTCF and BORIS compete for binding to some but not all genomic target sites; however, regulation of CTCF and BORIS genomic co-occupancy is not well understood. We recently addressed this issue, finding evidence for two major classes of CTCF target sequences, some of which contain single CTCF target sites (1xCTSes) and others containing two adjacent CTCF motifs (2xCTSes). The functional and chromatin structural features of 2xCTSes are distinct from those of 1xCTS-containing regions bound by a CTCF monomer. We suggest that these previously overlooked classes of CTCF binding regions may have different roles in regulating diverse chromatin-based phenomena, and may impact our understanding of heritable epigenetic regulation in cancer cells and normal germ cells.


1xCTS; 2xCTS; BORIS; CTCF; CTCFL; ChIP-seq; chromatin

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