Gene Summary

Gene:CTCF; CCCTC-binding factor (zinc finger protein)
Aliases: MRD21
Summary:This gene is a member of the BORIS + CTCF gene family and encodes a transcriptional regulator protein with 11 highly conserved zinc finger (ZF) domains. This nuclear protein is able to use different combinations of the ZF domains to bind different DNA target sequences and proteins. Depending upon the context of the site, the protein can bind a histone acetyltransferase (HAT)-containing complex and function as a transcriptional activator or bind a histone deacetylase (HDAC)-containing complex and function as a transcriptional repressor. If the protein is bound to a transcriptional insulator element, it can block communication between enhancers and upstream promoters, thereby regulating imprinted expression. Mutations in this gene have been associated with invasive breast cancers, prostate cancers, and Wilms' tumors. Alternatively spliced transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2010]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:transcriptional repressor CTCF
Source:NCBIAccessed: 21 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (29)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (1)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 21 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • YY1 Transcription Factor
  • X Chromosome Inactivation
  • Binding Sites
  • p53 Protein
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Chromatin
  • Base Sequence
  • Messenger RNA
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Wilms Tumour
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Breast Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Zinc Fingers
  • Chromosome 16
  • Histones
  • Virus Latency
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation
  • Long Noncoding RNA
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • IGF2
  • Sweden
  • Tamoxifen
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Protein Binding
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Epigenetics
  • Promoter Regions
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Sulfites
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
Tag cloud generated 21 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: CTCF (cancer-related)

Qin F, Song Z, Babiceanu M, et al.
Discovery of CTCF-sensitive Cis-spliced fusion RNAs between adjacent genes in human prostate cells.
PLoS Genet. 2015; 11(2):e1005001 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Genes or their encoded products are not expected to mingle with each other unless in some disease situations. In cancer, a frequent mechanism that can produce gene fusions is chromosomal rearrangement. However, recent discoveries of RNA trans-splicing and cis-splicing between adjacent genes (cis-SAGe) support for other mechanisms in generating fusion RNAs. In our transcriptome analyses of 28 prostate normal and cancer samples, 30% fusion RNAs on average are the transcripts that contain exons belonging to same-strand neighboring genes. These fusion RNAs may be the products of cis-SAGe, which was previously thought to be rare. To validate this finding and to better understand the phenomenon, we used LNCaP, a prostate cell line as a model, and identified 16 additional cis-SAGe events by silencing transcription factor CTCF and paired-end RNA sequencing. About half of the fusions are expressed at a significant level compared to their parental genes. Silencing one of the in-frame fusions resulted in reduced cell motility. Most out-of-frame fusions are likely to function as non-coding RNAs. The majority of the 16 fusions are also detected in other prostate cell lines, as well as in the 14 clinical prostate normal and cancer pairs. By studying the features associated with these fusions, we developed a set of rules: 1) the parental genes are same-strand-neighboring genes; 2) the distance between the genes is within 30kb; 3) the 5' genes are actively transcribing; and 4) the chimeras tend to have the second-to-last exon in the 5' genes joined to the second exon in the 3' genes. We then randomly selected 20 neighboring genes in the genome, and detected four fusion events using these rules in prostate cancer and non-cancerous cells. These results suggest that splicing between neighboring gene transcripts is a rather frequent phenomenon, and it is not a feature unique to cancer cells.

Li N, Zheng J, Li H, et al.
Identification of chimeric TSNAX-DISC1 resulting from intergenic splicing in endometrial carcinoma through high-throughput RNA sequencing.
Carcinogenesis. 2014; 35(12):2687-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gene fusion is among the primary processes that generate new genes and has been well characterized as potent pathway of oncogenesis. Here, by high-throughput RNA sequencing in nine paired human endometrial carcinoma (EC) and matched non-cancerous tissues, we obtained that chimeric translin-associated factor X-disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 (TSNAX-DISC1) occurred significantly upregulated in multiple EC samples. Experimental investigation showed that TSNAX-DISC1 appears to be formed by splicing without chromosomal rearrangement. The chimera expression inversely correlated with the binding of CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) to the insulators. Subsequent investigations indicate that long intergenic non-coding RNA lincRNA-NR_034037, separating TSNAX from DISC1, regulates TSNAX -DISC1 production and TSNAX/DISC1 expression levels by extricating CTCF from insulators. Dysregulation of TSNAX influences steroidogenic factor-1-stimulated transcription on the StAR promoter, altering progesterone actions, implying the association with cancer. Together, these results advance our understanding of the mechanism in which lincRNA-NR_034037 regulates TSNAX-DISC1 formation programs that tightly regulate EC development.

Georgakilas AG, Tsantoulis P, Kotsinas A, et al.
Are common fragile sites merely structural domains or highly organized "functional" units susceptible to oncogenic stress?
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014; 71(23):4519-44 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Common fragile sites (CFSs) are regions of the genome with a predisposition to DNA double-strand breaks in response to intrinsic (oncogenic) or extrinsic replication stress. CFS breakage is a common feature in carcinogenesis from its earliest stages. Given that a number of oncogenes and tumor suppressors are located within CFSs, a question that emerges is whether fragility in these regions is only a structural "passive" incident or an event with a profound biological effect. Furthermore, there is sparse evidence that other elements, like non-coding RNAs, are positioned with them. By analyzing data from various libraries, like miRbase and ENCODE, we show a prevalence of various cancer-related genes, miRNAs, and regulatory binding sites, such as CTCF within CFSs. We propose that CFSs are not only susceptible structural domains, but highly organized "functional" entities that when targeted, severe repercussion for cell homeostasis occurs.

Medrzycki M, Zhang Y, Zhang W, et al.
Histone h1.3 suppresses h19 noncoding RNA expression and cell growth of ovarian cancer cells.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(22):6463-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/11/2015 Related Publications
Ovarian cancer is a deadly gynecologic malignancy for which novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets are imperative for improving survival. Previous studies have suggested the expression pattern of linker histone variants as potential biomarkers for ovarian cancer. To investigate the role of histone H1 in ovarian cancer cells, we characterize individual H1 variants and overexpress one of the major somatic H1 variants, H1.3, in the OVCAR-3 epithelial ovarian cancer cell line. We find that overexpression of H1.3 decreases the growth rate and colony formation of OVCAR-3 cells. We identify histone H1.3 as a specific repressor for the noncoding oncogene H19. Overexpression of H1.3 suppresses H19 expression, and knockdown of H1.3 increases its expression in multiple ovarian epithelial cancer cell lines. Furthermore, we demonstrate that histone H1.3 overexpression leads to increased occupancy of H1.3 at the H19 regulator region encompassing the imprinting control region (ICR), concomitant with increased DNA methylation and reduced occupancy of the insulator protein CTCF at the ICR. Finally, we demonstrate that H1.3 overexpression and H19 knockdown synergistically decrease the growth rate of ovarian cancer cells. Our findings suggest that H1.3 dramatically inhibits H19 expression, which contributes to the suppression of epithelial ovarian carcinogenesis.

Soltanian S, Dehghani H, Matin MM, Bahrami AR
Expression analysis of BORIS during pluripotent, differentiated, cancerous, and non-cancerous cell states.
Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2014; 46(8):647-58 [PubMed] Related Publications
BORIS/CTCFL is an 11 zinc finger protein, which is the paralog of CTCF, a ubiquitously expressed protein with diverse roles in gene expression and chromatin organization. Several studies have shown that the expression of BORIS is restricted to normal adult testis, pluripotent cells, and diverse cancer cell lines. Thus, it is known as a cancer-testis (CT) gene that has been hypothesized to exhibit oncogenic properties and to be involved in cancer cell proliferation. On the contrary, other reports have shown that its expression is more widespread and can be detected in differentiated and normal somatic cells; hence, it might have roles in general cellular functions. The present study was aimed to analyze the expression of BORIS in different cell states of pluripotent, differentiated, cancerous and non-cancerous.We found that the two cell states of pluripotency and differentiation are not accompanied with significant variations of BORIS expression. Furthermore, Boris transcripts were detected at approximately the same level in cancer and non-cancer cell lines. These findings suggest that, in contrast to some previous reports, the expression of mouse BORIS is not limited to only cancerous cells or pluripotent cell states.

De Antonellis P, Carotenuto M, Vandenbussche J, et al.
Early targets of miR-34a in neuroblastoma.
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2014; 13(8):2114-31 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/11/2015 Related Publications
Several genes encoding for proteins involved in proliferation, invasion, and apoptosis are known to be direct miR-34a targets. Here, we used proteomics to screen for targets of miR-34a in neuroblastoma (NBL), a childhood cancer that originates from precursor cells of the sympathetic nervous system. We examined the effect of miR-34a overexpression using a tetracycline inducible system in two NBL cell lines (SHEP and SH-SY5Y) at early time points of expression (6, 12, and 24 h). Proteome analysis using post-metabolic labeling led to the identification of 2,082 proteins, and among these 186 were regulated (112 proteins down-regulated and 74 up-regulated). Prediction of miR-34a targets via bioinformatics showed that 32 transcripts held miR-34a seed sequences in their 3'-UTR. By combining the proteomics data with Kaplan Meier gene-expression studies, we identified seven new gene products (ALG13, TIMM13, TGM2, ABCF2, CTCF, Ki67, and LYAR) that were correlated with worse clinical outcomes. These were further validated in vitro by 3'-UTR seed sequence regulation. In addition, Michigan Molecular Interactions searches indicated that together these proteins affect signaling pathways that regulate cell cycle and proliferation, focal adhesions, and other cellular properties that overall enhance tumor progression (including signaling pathways such as TGF-β, WNT, MAPK, and FAK). In conclusion, proteome analysis has here identified early targets of miR-34a with relevance to NBL tumorigenesis. Along with the results of previous studies, our data strongly suggest miR-34a as a useful tool for improving the chance of therapeutic success with NBL.

Wang D, Li C, Zhang X
The promoter methylation status and mRNA expression levels of CTCF and SIRT6 in sporadic breast cancer.
DNA Cell Biol. 2014; 33(9):581-90 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Promoter hypermethylation causes gene silencing and is thought to be an early event in carcinogenesis. This study was to detect promoter methylation status and mRNA expression levels of CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) and sirtuin 6 (SIRT6), and to explore the relationship between methylation and mRNA expression in breast cancer patient samples. Promoter methylation analysis and expression profile analysis of two genes were performed by methylation-specific PCR, bisulfite sequencing PCR, and quantitative real-time PCR in cancer lesions and matched normal tissues. The promoter region of CTCF has not been hypermethylated in all patient samples. In contrast, methylation of SIRT6 gene was present in invasive cancers (93.5%) and matched normal tissues (96.8%) from 62 patients. Promoter hypermethylation of SIRT6 was also observed in ductal carcinoma in situ (three of three) and matched normal tissues (two of three). mRNA expression of CTCF and SIRT6 in invasive tumors showed a lower level than that in paired normal tissues (p=0.008 and p=0.030, respectively). The fold change values of CTCF expression were significantly lower in invasive ductal cancer lesions with Ki-67-positive status (p=0.042). In conclusion, our data showed that the methylation status of CTCF and SIRT6 promoter regions was not statistically different in cancer lesions compared with matched normal tissues. No significant association between promoter methylation status and expression profiles of CTCF and SIRT6 was found in invasive breast cancers.

Kemp CJ, Moore JM, Moser R, et al.
CTCF haploinsufficiency destabilizes DNA methylation and predisposes to cancer.
Cell Rep. 2014; 7(4):1020-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Epigenetic alterations, particularly in DNA methylation, are ubiquitous in cancer, yet the molecular origins and the consequences of these alterations are poorly understood. CTCF, a DNA-binding protein that regulates higher-order chromatin organization, is frequently altered by hemizygous deletion or mutation in human cancer. To date, a causal role for CTCF in cancer has not been established. Here, we show that Ctcf hemizygous knockout mice are markedly susceptible to spontaneous, radiation-, and chemically induced cancer in a broad range of tissues. Ctcf(+/-) tumors are characterized by increased aggressiveness, including invasion, metastatic dissemination, and mixed epithelial/mesenchymal differentiation. Molecular analysis of Ctcf(+/-) tumors indicates that Ctcf is haploinsufficient for tumor suppression. Tissues with hemizygous loss of CTCF exhibit increased variability in CpG methylation genome wide. These findings establish CTCF as a prominent tumor-suppressor gene and point to CTCF-mediated epigenetic stability as a major barrier to neoplastic progression.

Xiang JF, Yin QF, Chen T, et al.
Human colorectal cancer-specific CCAT1-L lncRNA regulates long-range chromatin interactions at the MYC locus.
Cell Res. 2014; 24(5):513-31 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
The human 8q24 gene desert contains multiple enhancers that form tissue-specific long-range chromatin loops with the MYC oncogene, but how chromatin looping at the MYC locus is regulated remains poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), CCAT1-L, is transcribed specifically in human colorectal cancers from a locus 515 kb upstream of MYC. This lncRNA plays a role in MYC transcriptional regulation and promotes long-range chromatin looping. Importantly, the CCAT1-L locus is located within a strong super-enhancer and is spatially close to MYC. Knockdown of CCAT1-L reduced long-range interactions between the MYC promoter and its enhancers. In addition, CCAT1-L interacts with CTCF and modulates chromatin conformation at these loop regions. These results reveal an important role of a previously unannotated lncRNA in gene regulation at the MYC locus.

Hoivik EA, Kusonmano K, Halle MK, et al.
Hypomethylation of the CTCFL/BORIS promoter and aberrant expression during endometrial cancer progression suggests a role as an Epi-driver gene.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(4):1052-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Cancers arise through accumulating genetic and epigenetic alterations, considered relevant for phenotype and approaches to targeting new therapies. We investigated a unique collection of endometrial cancer precursor samples and clinically annotated primary and metastatic lesions for two evolutionary and functionally related transcription factors, CCCTC-binding factor (zinc finger protein) (CTCF) and its paralogue CTCF-like factor, also denoted Brother of the Regulator of Imprinted Sites (CTCFL/BORIS). CTCF, a chromatin modeling- and transcription factor, is normally expressed in a ubiquitous fashion, while CTCFL/BORIS is restricted to the testis. In cancer, CTCF is thought to be a tumor suppressor, while CTCFL/BORIS has been suggested as an oncogene. CTCF mutations were identified in 13%, with CTCF hotspot frameshift mutations at p.T204, all observed solely in the endometrioid subtype, but with no association with outcome. Interestingly, CTCFL/BORIS was amongst the top ranked genes differentially expressed between endometrioid and non-endometrioid tumors, and increasing mRNA level of CTCFL/BORIS was highly significantly associated with poor survival. As aberrant CTCFL/BORIS expression might relate to loss of methylation, we explored methylation status in clinical samples from complex atypical hyperplasia, through primary tumors to metastatic lesions, demonstrating a pattern of DNA methylation loss during disease development and progression in line with the increase in CTCFL/BORIS mRNA expression observed. Thus, CTCF and CTCFL/BORIS are found to diverge in the different subtypes of endometrial cancer, with CTCFL/BORIS activation through demethylation from precursors to metastatic lesions. We thus propose, CTCFL/BORIS as an Epi-driver gene in endometrial cancer, suggesting a potential for future vaccine development.

Marshall AD, Bailey CG, Rasko JE
CTCF and BORIS in genome regulation and cancer.
Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2014; 24:8-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
CTCF plays a vital role in chromatin structure and function. CTCF is ubiquitously expressed and plays diverse roles in gene regulation, imprinting, insulation, intra/interchromosomal interactions, nuclear compartmentalisation, and alternative splicing. CTCF has a single paralogue, the testes-specific CTCF-like gene (CTCFL)/BORIS. CTCF and BORIS can be deregulated in cancer. The tumour suppressor gene CTCF can be mutated or deleted in cancer, or CTCF DNA binding can be altered by epigenetic changes. BORIS is aberrantly expressed frequently in cancer, leading some to propose a pro-tumourigenic role for BORIS. However, BORIS can inhibit cell proliferation, and is mutated in cancer similarly to CTCF suggesting BORIS activation in cancer may be due to global genetic or epigenetic changes typical of malignant transformation.

Shi J, Marconett CN, Duan J, et al.
Characterizing the genetic basis of methylome diversity in histologically normal human lung tissue.
Nat Commun. 2014; 5:3365 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
The genetic regulation of the human epigenome is not fully appreciated. Here we describe the effects of genetic variants on the DNA methylome in human lung based on methylation-quantitative trait loci (meQTL) analyses. We report 34,304 cis- and 585 trans-meQTLs, a genetic-epigenetic interaction of surprising magnitude, including a regulatory hotspot. These findings are replicated in both breast and kidney tissues and show distinct patterns: cis-meQTLs mostly localize to CpG sites outside of genes, promoters and CpG islands (CGIs), while trans-meQTLs are over-represented in promoter CGIs. meQTL SNPs are enriched in CTCF-binding sites, DNaseI hypersensitivity regions and histone marks. Importantly, four of the five established lung cancer risk loci in European ancestry are cis-meQTLs and, in aggregate, cis-meQTLs are enriched for lung cancer risk in a genome-wide analysis of 11,587 subjects. Thus, inherited genetic variation may affect lung carcinogenesis by regulating the human methylome.

Novak Kujundžić R, Grbeša I, Ivkić M, et al.
Possible prognostic value of BORIS transcript variants ratio in laryngeal squamous cell carcinomas - a pilot study.
Pathol Oncol Res. 2014; 20(3):687-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
BORIS is a paralog of a highly conserved, multi-functional chromatin factor CTCF. Unlike CTCF, which has been shown to possess tumor-suppressive properties, BORIS belongs to the "cancer/testis antigen" family normally expressed only in germ cells and aberrantly activated in a variety of tumors. The consequences of BORIS expression, relative abundance of its isoforms, and its role in carcinogenesis have not been completely elucidated. It activates transcription of hTERT and MYC, genes relevant for laryngeal carcinoma progression. In this study, BORIS expression has been analyzed at the transcriptional level by RT-PCR and protein level by semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry in 32 laryngeal squamous cell carcinomas and adjacent non-tumorous tissue. BORIS was detected in 44 % (14/32) laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma samples, while it was detected only in one normal, tumor-adjacent tissue sample. Tree based survival analysis, using the recursive partitioning algorithm mvpart, extracted the ratio of relative abundance of BORIS transcript variants containing exon 7 (BORIS 7+) and those lacking exon 7 (BORIS 7-) as an independent prognostic factor associated with disease relapse during a 5-year follow-up period. Patients having BORIS 7+/BORIS 7- ratio ≥1 had a higher rate of disease relapse than patients with BORIS 7+/BORIS 7- ratio <1. Hazard ratio for that group, based on Cox Proportional Hazard Regression, was 3.53. This is the first study analyzing expression of BORIS protein and transcript variants in laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma relative to its possible prognostic value for recurrence and overall survival.

Yang B, Wagner J, Damaschke N, et al.
A novel pathway links oxidative stress to loss of insulin growth factor-2 (IGF2) imprinting through NF-κB activation.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e88052 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Genomic imprinting is the allele-specific expression of a gene based on parental origin. Loss of imprinting(LOI) of Insulin-like Growth Factor 2 (IGF2) during aging is important in tumorigenesis, yet the regulatory mechanisms driving this event are largely unknown. In this study oxidative stress, measured by increased NF-κB activity, induces LOI in both cancerous and noncancerous human prostate cells. Decreased expression of the enhancer-blocking element CCCTC-binding factor(CTCF) results in reduced binding of CTCF to the H19-ICR (imprint control region), a major factor in the allelic silencing of IGF2. This ICR then develops increased DNA methylation. Assays identify a recruitment of the canonical pathway proteins NF-κB p65 and p50 to the CTCF promoter associated with the co-repressor HDAC1 explaining gene repression. An IκBα super-repressor blocks oxidative stress-induced activation of NF-κB and IGF2 imprinting is maintained. In vivo experiments using IκBα mutant mice with continuous NF-κB activation demonstrate increased IGF2 LOI further confirming a central role for canonical NF-κB signaling. We conclude CTCF plays a central role in mediating the effects of NF-κB activation that result in altered imprinting both in vitro and in vivo. This novel finding connects inflammation found in aging prostate tissues with the altered epigenetic landscape.

Zitzmann F, Mayr D, Berger M, et al.
Frequent hypermethylation of a CTCF binding site influences Wilms tumor 1 expression in Wilms tumors.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 31(4):1871-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) gene plays an essential role in early development and differentiation of the urinary tract, particularly the kidneys. Aberrant transcriptional activity of WT1 is a key finding in the genesis of Wilms tumors (WTs). However, the mechanisms responsible for this alteration remain poorly understood. In the present study, we examined the methylation pattern of a putative CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) binding site downstream of the WT1 gene as a potential cause of WT1 misregulation in 44 native WT specimens. We found that 16 WT cases exhibited a much higher WT1 expression compared to normal kidney tissue, and that the high mRNA expression of WT1 is strongly correlated with a high degree of DNA methylation of the CTCF binding site near the WT1 promoter. However, there was no correlation between the KTS+/KTS- splicing variants of WT1 and the methylation status of the CpGs of the CTCF binding site. Our results demonstrated an aberrant methylation pattern at a CTCF binding site downstream the WT1 gene, which is associated with an elevated WT1 transcriptional activity. Thus, methylation of the CTCF binding site may be partially responsible for the transcriptional activation of the WT1 locus and hypermethylation of this site may be an important oncogenic mechanism in the genesis of WT.

Dluhosova M, Curik N, Vargova J, et al.
Epigenetic control of SPI1 gene by CTCF and ISWI ATPase SMARCA5.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e87448 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) can both activate as well as inhibit transcription by forming chromatin loops between regulatory regions and promoters. In this regard, Ctcf binding on non-methylated DNA and its interaction with the Cohesin complex results in differential regulation of the H19/Igf2 locus. Similarly, a role for CTCF has been established in normal hematopoietic development; however its involvement in leukemia remains elusive. Here, we show that Ctcf binds to the imprinting control region of H19/Igf2 in AML blasts. We also demonstrate that Smarca5, which also associates with the Cohesin complex, facilitates Ctcf binding to its target sites on DNA. Furthermore, Smarca5 supports Ctcf functionally and is needed for enhancer-blocking effect at ICR. We next asked whether CTCF and SMARCA5 control the expression of key hematopoiesis regulators. In normally differentiating myeloid cells both CTCF and SMARCA5 together with members of the Cohesin complex are recruited to the SPI1 gene, a key hematopoiesis regulator and leukemia suppressor. Due to DNA methylation, CTCF binding to the SPI1 gene is blocked in AML blasts. Upon AZA-mediated DNA demethylation of human AML blasts, CTCF and SMARCA5 are recruited to the -14.4 Enhancer of SPI1 gene and block its expression. Our data provide new insight into complex SPI1 gene regulation now involving additional key epigenetic factors, CTCF and SMARCA5 that control PU.1 expression at the -14.4 Enhancer.

Manodoro F, Marzec J, Chaplin T, et al.
Loss of imprinting at the 14q32 domain is associated with microRNA overexpression in acute promyelocytic leukemia.
Blood. 2014; 123(13):2066-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
Distinct patterns of DNA methylation characterize the epigenetic landscape of promyelocytic leukemia/retinoic acid receptor-α (PML-RARα)-associated acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). We previously reported that the microRNAs (miRNAs) clustered on chromosome 14q32 are overexpressed only in APL. Here, using high-throughput bisulfite sequencing, we identified an APL-associated hypermethylation at the upstream differentially methylated region (DMR), which also included the site motifs for the enhancer blocking protein CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF). Comparing the profiles of diagnostic/remission paired patient samples, we show that hypermethylation was acquired in APL in a monoallelic manner. The cytosine guanine dinucleotide status of the DMR correlated with expression of the miRNAs following a characteristic position-dependent pattern. Moreover, a signature of hypermethylation was also detected in leukemic cells from an established transgenic PML-RARA APL mouse model at the orthologous region on chromosome 12, including the CTCF binding site located upstream from the mouse miRNA cluster. These results, together with the demonstration that the region does not show DNA methylation changes during myeloid differentiation, provide evidence that 14q32 hypermethylation is implicated in the pathogenesis of APL. We propose a model in which loss of imprinting at the 14q32 domain leads to overexpression of the miRNAs in APL.

Tempera I, Lieberman PM
Epigenetic regulation of EBV persistence and oncogenesis.
Semin Cancer Biol. 2014; 26:22-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Epigenetic mechanisms play a fundamental role in generating diverse and heritable patterns of viral and cellular gene expression. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can adopt a variety of gene expression programs that are necessary for long-term viral persistence and latency in multiple host-cell types and conditions. The latent viral genomes assemble into chromatin structures with different histone and DNA modifications patterns that control viral gene expression. Variations in nucleosome organization and chromatin conformations can also influence gene expression by coordinating physical interactions between different regulatory elements. The viral-encoded and host-cell factors that control these epigenetic features are beginning to be understood at the genome-wide level. These epigenetic regulators can also influence viral pathogenesis by expanding tissue tropism, evading immune detection, and driving host-cell carcinogenesis. Here, we review some of the recent findings and perspectives on how the EBV epigenome plays a central role in viral latency and viral-associated carcinogenesis.

Zhang H, Zhu L, He H, et al.
NF-kappa B mediated up-regulation of CCCTC-binding factor in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:5 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most frequently occurring malignant neoplasm in children. Despite advances in treatment and outcomes for ALL patients, the pathogenesis of the disease remains unclear. Microarray analysis of samples from 100 Chinese children with ALL revealed the up-regulation of CTCF (CCCTC binding factor). CTCF is a highly conserved 11-zinc finger protein that is involved in many human cancers; however, the biological function of CTCF in pediatric ALL is unknown.
METHODS: The expression patterns of CTCF were evaluated in matched newly diagnosed (ND), complete remission (CR), and relapsed (RE) bone marrow samples from 28 patients. The potential oncogenic mechanism of CTCF and related pathways in leukemogenesis were investigated in leukemia cell lines.
RESULTS: We identified significant up-regulation of CTCF in the ND samples. Importantly, the expression of CTCF returned to normal levels after CR but rebounded in the RE samples. In the pre-B ALL cell line Nalm-6, siRNA-mediated silencing of CTCF expression promoted cell apoptosis and reduced cell proliferation; accordingly, over-expression of a cDNA encoding full-length CTCF protected cells from apoptosis and enhanced cell proliferation. Furthermore, inhibition or activation of the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) pathway resulted in marked variations in the levels of CTCF mRNA and protein in leukemic cells, indicating that CTCF may be involved downstream of the NF-κB pathway. Moreover, inhibition of the NF-κB pathway increased cell apoptosis, which was partially rescued by ectopic over-expression of CTCF, suggesting that CTCF may play a significant role in the anti-apoptotic pathway mediated by NF-κB.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that CTCF serves as both an anti-apoptotic factor and a proliferative factor in leukemic cells. It potentially contributes to leukemogenesis through the NF-κB pathway in pediatric ALL patients.

Batlle-López A, Cortiguera MG, Rosa-Garrido M, et al.
Novel CTCF binding at a site in exon1A of BCL6 is associated with active histone marks and a transcriptionally active locus.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(2):246-56 [PubMed] Related Publications
BCL6 is a zinc-finger transcriptional repressor, which is highly expressed in germinal centre B-cells and is essential for germinal centre formation and T-dependent antibody responses. Constitutive BCL6 expression is sufficient to produce lymphomas in mice. Deregulated expression of BCL6 due to chromosomal rearrangements, mutations of a negative autoregulatory site in the BCL6 promoter region and aberrant post-translational modifications have been detected in a number of human lymphomas. Tight lineage and temporal regulation of BCL6 is, therefore, required for normal immunity, and abnormal regulation occurs in lymphomas. CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is a multi-functional chromatin regulator, which has recently been shown to bind in a methylation-sensitive manner to sites within the BCL6 first intron. We demonstrate a novel CTCF-binding site in BCL6 exon1A within a potential CpG island, which is unmethylated both in cell lines and in primary lymphoma samples. CTCF binding, which was found in BCL6-expressing cell lines, correlated with the presence of histone variant H2A.Z and active histone marks, suggesting that CTCF induces chromatin modification at a transcriptionally active BCL6 locus. CTCF binding to exon1A was required to maintain BCL6 expression in germinal centre cells by avoiding BCL6-negative autoregulation. Silencing of CTCF in BCL6-expressing cells reduced BCL6 mRNA and protein expression, which is sufficient to induce B-cell terminal differentiation toward plasma cells. Moreover, lack of CTCF binding to exon1A shifts the BCL6 local chromatin from an active to a repressive state. This work demonstrates that, in contexts in which BCL6 is expressed, CTCF binding to BCL6 exon1A associates with epigenetic modifications indicative of transcriptionally open chromatin.

Chen HS, Martin KA, Lu F, et al.
Epigenetic deregulation of the LMP1/LMP2 locus of Epstein-Barr virus by mutation of a single CTCF-cohesin binding site.
J Virol. 2014; 88(3):1703-13 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
The chromatin regulatory factors CTCF and cohesin have been implicated in the coordinated control of multiple gene loci in Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latency. We have found that CTCF and cohesin are highly enriched at the convergent and partially overlapping transcripts for the LMP1 and LMP2A genes, but it is not yet known how CTCF and cohesin may coordinately regulate these transcripts. We now show that genetic disruption of this CTCF binding site (EBVΔCTCF166) leads to a deregulation of LMP1, LMP2A, and LMP2B transcription in EBV-immortalized B lymphocytes. EBVΔCTCF166 virus-immortalized primary B lymphocytes showed a decrease in LMP1 and LMP2A mRNA and a corresponding increase in LMP2B mRNA. The reduction of LMP1 and LMP2A correlated with a loss of euchromatic histone modification H3K9ac and a corresponding increase in heterochromatic histone modification H3K9me3 at the LMP2A promoter region in EBVΔCTCF166. Chromosome conformation capture (3C) revealed that DNA loop formation with the origin of plasmid replication (OriP) enhancer was eliminated in EBVΔCTCF166. We also observed that the EBV episome copy number was elevated in EBVΔCTCF166 and that this was not due to increased lytic cycle activity. These findings suggest that a single CTCF binding site controls LMP2A and LMP1 promoter selection, chromatin boundary function, DNA loop formation, and episome copy number control during EBV latency.

Zhou Y, Kurukuti S, Saffrey P, et al.
Chromatin looping defines expression of TAL1, its flanking genes, and regulation in T-ALL.
Blood. 2013; 122(26):4199-209 [PubMed] Related Publications
TAL1 is an important regulator of hematopoiesis and its expression is tightly controlled despite complexities in its genomic organization. It is frequently misregulated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), often due to deletions between TAL1 and the neighboring STIL gene. To better understand the events that lead to TAL1 expression in hematopoiesis and in T-ALL, we studied looping interactions at the TAL1 locus. In TAL1-expressing erythroid cells, the locus adopts a looping "hub" which brings into close physical proximity all known TAL1 cis-regulatory elements including CTCF-bound insulators. Loss of GATA1 results in disassembly of the hub and loss of CTCF/RAD21 from one of its insulators. Genes flanking TAL1 are partly dependent on hub integrity for their transcriptional regulation. We identified looping patterns unique to TAL1-expressing T-ALL cells, and, intriguingly, loops occurring between the TAL1 and STIL genes at the common TAL1/STIL breakpoints found in T-ALL. These findings redefine how TAL1 and neighboring genes communicate within the nucleus, and indicate that looping facilitates both normal and aberrant TAL1 expression and may predispose to structural rearrangements in T-ALL. We also propose that GATA1-dependent looping mechanisms may facilitate the conservation of TAL1 regulation despite cis-regulatory remodeling during vertebrate evolution.

Plant K, Fairfax BP, Makino S, et al.
Fine mapping genetic determinants of the highly variably expressed MHC gene ZFP57.
Eur J Hum Genet. 2014; 22(4):568-71 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
ZFP57 is an important transcriptional regulator involved in DNA methylation and genomic imprinting during development. Here we demonstrate that gene expression also occurs at a low level in adult peripheral blood cells and other tissues including the kidney and thymus, but is critically dependent on underlying local genetic variation within the MHC. We resolve a highly significant expression quantitative trait locus for ZFP57 involving single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the first intron of the gene co-localizing with a DNase I hypersensitive site and evidence of CTCF recruitment. These data identify ZFP57 as a candidate gene underlying reported MHC disease associations, notably for putative regulatory variants associated with cancer and HIV-1. The work highlights the role that ZFP57 may play in DNA methylation and epigenetic regulation beyond early development into adult life dependent on genetic background, with important potential implications for disease.

Zighelboim I, Mutch DG, Knapp A, et al.
High frequency strand slippage mutations in CTCF in MSI-positive endometrial cancers.
Hum Mutat. 2014; 35(1):63-5 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Tumors with defective mismatch repair acquire large numbers of strand slippage mutations including frameshifts in coding sequence repeats. We identified a mutational hotspot, p.T204fs, in the insulator-binding protein (CTCF) in MSI-positive endometrial cancers. Although CTCF was described as a significantly mutated gene by the endometrial cancer TCGA, the A₇ track variants leading to T204 frameshifts were not reported. Reanalysis of TCGA data using Pindel revealed frequent T204fs mutations, confirming CTCF is an MSI target gene and revealed the same frameshifts in tumors with intact mismatch repair. We show that T204fs transcripts are subject to nonsense-mediated decay and as such, T204fs mutations are unlikely to act as dominant negatives. The spectrum and pattern of mutations observed is consistent with CTCF acting as a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor.

Cheema Z, Hari-Gupta Y, Kita GX, et al.
Expression of the cancer-testis antigen BORIS correlates with prostate cancer.
Prostate. 2014; 74(2):164-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: BORIS, a paralogue of the transcription factor CTCF, is a member of the cancer-testis antigen (CT) family. BORIS is normally present at high levels in the testis; however it is aberrantly expressed in various tumors and cancer cell lines. The main objectives of this study were to investigate BORIS expression together with sub-cellular localization in both prostate cell lines and tumor tissues, and assess correlations between BORIS and clinical/pathological characteristics.
METHODS: We examined BORIS mRNA expression, protein levels and cellular localization in a panel of human prostate tissues, cancer and benign, together with a panel prostate cell lines. We also compared BORIS levels and localization with clinical/pathological characteristics in prostate tumors.
RESULTS: BORIS was detected in all inspected prostate cancer cell lines and tumors, but was absent in benign prostatic hyperplasia. Increased levels of BORIS protein positively correlated with Gleason score, T-stage and androgen receptor (AR) protein levels in prostate tumors. The relationship between BORIS and AR was further highlighted in prostate cell lines by the ability of ectopically expressed BORIS to activate the endogenous AR mRNA and protein. BORIS localization in the nucleus plus cytoplasm was also associated with higher BORIS levels and Gleason score.
CONCLUSIONS: Detection of BORIS in prostate tumors suggests potential applications of BORIS as a biomarker for prostate cancer diagnosis, as an immunotherapy target and, potentially, a prognostic marker of more aggressive prostate cancer. The ability of BORIS to activate the AR gene indicates BORIS involvement in the growth and development of prostate tumors.

Yoshida K, Toki T, Okuno Y, et al.
The landscape of somatic mutations in Down syndrome-related myeloid disorders.
Nat Genet. 2013; 45(11):1293-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transient abnormal myelopoiesis (TAM) is a myeloid proliferation resembling acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL), mostly affecting perinatal infants with Down syndrome. Although self-limiting in a majority of cases, TAM may evolve as non-self-limiting AMKL after spontaneous remission (DS-AMKL). Pathogenesis of these Down syndrome-related myeloid disorders is poorly understood, except for GATA1 mutations found in most cases. Here we report genomic profiling of 41 TAM, 49 DS-AMKL and 19 non-DS-AMKL samples, including whole-genome and/or whole-exome sequencing of 15 TAM and 14 DS-AMKL samples. TAM appears to be caused by a single GATA1 mutation and constitutive trisomy 21. Subsequent AMKL evolves from a pre-existing TAM clone through the acquisition of additional mutations, with major mutational targets including multiple cohesin components (53%), CTCF (20%), and EZH2, KANSL1 and other epigenetic regulators (45%), as well as common signaling pathways, such as the JAK family kinases, MPL, SH2B3 (LNK) and multiple RAS pathway genes (47%).

Forn M, Muñoz M, Tauriello DV, et al.
Long range epigenetic silencing is a trans-species mechanism that results in cancer specific deregulation by overriding the chromatin domains of normal cells.
Mol Oncol. 2013; 7(6):1129-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
DNA methylation and chromatin remodeling are frequently implicated in the silencing of genes involved in carcinogenesis. Long Range Epigenetic Silencing (LRES) is a mechanism of gene inactivation that affects multiple contiguous CpG islands and has been described in different human cancer types. However, it is unknown whether there is a coordinated regulation of the genes embedded in these regions in normal cells and in early stages of tumor progression. To better characterize the molecular events associated with the regulation and remodeling of these regions we analyzed two regions undergoing LRES in human colon cancer in the mouse model. We demonstrate that LRES also occurs in murine cancer in vivo and mimics the molecular features of the human phenomenon, namely, downregulation of gene expression, acquisition of inactive histone marks, and DNA hypermethylation of specific CpG islands. The genes embedded in these regions showed a dynamic and autonomous regulation during mouse intestinal cell differentiation, indicating that, in the framework considered here, the coordinated regulation in LRES is restricted to cancer. Unexpectedly, benign adenomas in Apc(Min/+) mice showed overexpression of most of the genes affected by LRES in cancer, which suggests that the repressive remodeling of the region is a late event. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the transcriptional insulator CTCF in mouse colon cancer cells revealed disrupted chromatin domain boundaries as compared with normal cells. Malignant regression of cancer cells by in vitro differentiation resulted in partial reversion of LRES and gain of CTCF binding. We conclude that genes in LRES regions are plastically regulated in cell differentiation and hyperproliferation, but are constrained to a coordinated repression by abolishing boundaries and the autonomous regulation of chromatin domains in cancer cells.

Li T, Chen H, Li W, et al.
Promoter histone H3K27 methylation in the control of IGF2 imprinting in human tumor cell lines.
Hum Mol Genet. 2014; 23(1):117-28 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Aberrant imprinting of the insulin-like growth factor II (IGF2) gene is a molecular hallmark of many tumors. Reactivation of the normally suppressed maternal allele leads to upregulation of the growth factor that promotes tumor growth. However, the mechanisms underlying the loss of imprinting (LOI) remain poorly defined. We examined the epigenotypes at the gene promoters that control IGF2 allelic expression. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation, we found that in cells characterized by maintenance of IGF2 imprinting, three IGF2 promoters were differentially modified, with the suppressed allele heavily methylated at histone H3K27 while the active allele was unmethylated. In the LOI tumors, however, both alleles were unmethylated, and correspondingly there was no binding of SUZ12, the docking factor of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), and of the zinc finger-containing transcription factor (CTCF) that recruits the PRC2. Using chromatin conformation capture, we found that the CTCF-orchestrated intrachromosomal loop between the IGF2 promoters and the imprinting control region was abrogated in cells with LOI. SUZ12, which docks the PRC2 to IGF2 promoters for H3K27 methylation, was downregulated in LOI cells. These data reveal a new epigenetic control pathway related to the loss of IGF2 imprinting in tumors.

Méndez-Catalá CF, Gretton S, Vostrov A, et al.
A novel mechanism for CTCF in the epigenetic regulation of Bax in breast cancer cells.
Neoplasia. 2013; 15(8):898-912 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
We previously reported the association of elevated levels of the multifunctional transcription factor, CCCTC binding factor (CTCF), in breast cancer cells with the specific anti-apoptotic function of CTCF. To understand the molecular mechanisms of this phenomenon, we investigated regulation of the human Bax gene by CTCF in breast and non-breast cells. Two CTCF binding sites (CTSs) within the Bax promoter were identified. In all cells, breast and non-breast, active histone modifications were present at these CTSs, DNA harboring this region was unmethylated, and levels of Bax mRNA and protein were similar. Nevertheless, up-regulation of Bax mRNA and protein and apoptotic cell death were observed only in breast cancer cells depleted of CTCF. We proposed that increased CTCF binding to the Bax promoter in breast cancer cells, by comparison with non-breast cells, may be mechanistically linked to the specific apoptotic phenotype in CTCF-depleted breast cancer cells. In this study, we show that CTCF binding was enriched at the Bax CTSs in breast cancer cells and tumors; in contrast, binding of other transcription factors (SP1, WT1, EGR1, and c-Myc) was generally increased in non-breast cells and normal breast tissues. Our findings suggest a novel mechanism for CTCF in the epigenetic regulation of Bax in breast cancer cells, whereby elevated levels of CTCF support preferential binding of CTCF to the Bax CTSs. In this context, CTCF functions as a transcriptional repressor counteracting influences of positive regulatory factors; depletion of breast cancer cells from CTCF therefore results in the activation of Bax and apoptosis.

Niemczyk M, Ito Y, Huddleston J, et al.
Imprinted chromatin around DIRAS3 regulates alternative splicing of GNG12-AS1, a long noncoding RNA.
Am J Hum Genet. 2013; 93(2):224-35 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Imprinted gene clusters are regulated by long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), CCCTC binding factor (CTCF)-mediated boundaries, and DNA methylation. DIRAS3 (also known as ARH1 or NOEY1) is an imprinted gene encoding a protein belonging to the RAS superfamily of GTPases and is located within an intron of a lncRNA called GNG12-AS1. In this study, we investigated whether GNG12-AS1 is imprinted and coregulated with DIRAS3. We report that GNG12-AS1 is coexpressed with DIRAS3 in several tissues and coordinately downregulated with DIRAS3 in breast cancers. GNG12-AS1 has several splice variants, all of which initiate from a single transcription start site. In placenta tissue and normal cell lines, GNG12-AS1 is biallelically expressed but some isoforms are allele-specifically spliced. Cohesin plays a role in allele-specific splicing of GNG12-AS1. In breast cancer cell lines with loss of DIRAS3 imprinting, DIRAS3 and GNG12-AS1 are silenced in cis and the remaining GNG12-AS1 transcripts are predominantly monoallelic. The GNG12-AS1 locus, which includes DIRAS3, provides an example of imprinted cotranscriptional splicing and a potential model system for studying the long-range effects of CTCF-cohesin binding on splicing and transcriptional interference.

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