The ubiquitous transcription factor CTCF promotes lineage-specific epigenomic remodeling and establishment of transcriptional networks driving cell differentiation.
ABSTRACT: Cell differentiation relies on tissue-specific transcription factors (TFs) that cooperate to establish unique transcriptomes and phenotypes. However, the role of ubiquitous TFs in these processes remains poorly defined. Recently, we have shown that the CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is required for adipocyte differentiation through epigenomic remodelling of adipose tissue-specific enhancers and transcriptional activation of Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG), the main driver of the adipogenic program (PPARG), and its target genes. Here, we discuss how these findings, together with the recent literature, illuminate a functional role for ubiquitous TFs in lineage-determining transcriptional networks.
Project description:CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is a ubiquitously expressed multifunctional transcription factor characterized by chromatin binding patterns often described as largely invariant. In this context, how CTCF chromatin recruitment and functionalities are used to promote cell type-specific gene expression remains poorly defined. Here, we show that, in addition to constitutively bound CTCF binding sites (CTS), the CTCF cistrome comprises a large proportion of sites showing highly dynamic binding patterns during the course of adipogenesis. Interestingly, dynamic CTCF chromatin binding is positively linked with changes in expression of genes involved in biological functions defining the different stages of adipogenesis. Importantly, a subset of these dynamic CTS are gained at cell type-specific regulatory regions, in line with a requirement for CTCF in transcriptional induction of adipocyte differentiation. This relates to, at least in part, CTCF requirement for transcriptional activation of both the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) and its target genes. Functionally, we show that CTCF interacts with TET methylcytosine dioxygenase (TET) enzymes and promotes adipogenic transcriptional enhancer DNA hydroxymethylation. Our study reveals a dynamic CTCF chromatin binding landscape required for epigenomic remodeling of enhancers and transcriptional activation driving cell differentiation.
Project description:Chromatin insulators are DNA elements that regulate the level of gene expression either by preventing gene silencing through the maintenance of heterochromatin boundaries or by preventing gene activation by blocking interactions between enhancers and promoters. CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), a ubiquitously expressed 11-zinc-finger DNA-binding protein, is the only protein implicated in the establishment of insulators in vertebrates. While CTCF has been implicated in diverse regulatory functions, CTCF has only been studied in a limited number of cell types across human genome. Thus, it is not clear whether the identified cell type-specific differences in CTCF-binding sites are functionally significant. Here, we identify and characterize cell type-specific and ubiquitous CTCF-binding sites in the human genome across 38 cell types designated by the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) consortium. These cell type-specific and ubiquitous CTCF-binding sites show uniquely versatile transcriptional functions and characteristic chromatin features. In addition, we confirm the insulator barrier function of CTCF-binding and explore the novel function of CTCF in DNA replication. These results represent a critical step toward the comprehensive and systematic understanding of CTCF-dependent insulators and their versatile roles in the human genome.
Project description:In germinal centres (GC) mature B cells undergo intense proliferation and immunoglobulin gene modification before they differentiate into memory B cells or long-lived plasma cells (PC). GC B-cell-to-PC transition involves a major transcriptional switch that promotes a halt in cell proliferation and the production of secreted immunoglobulins. Here we show that the CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is required for the GC reaction in vivo, whereas in vitro the requirement for CTCF is not universal and instead depends on the pathways used for B-cell activation. CTCF maintains the GC transcriptional programme, allows a high proliferation rate, and represses the expression of Blimp-1, the master regulator of PC differentiation. Restoration of Blimp-1 levels partially rescues the proliferation defect of CTCF-deficient B cells. Thus, our data reveal an essential function of CTCF in maintaining the GC transcriptional programme and preventing premature PC differentiation.
Project description:The CCCTC-binding zinc-finger protein (CTCF)-mediated network of long-range chromatin interactions is important for genome organization and function. Although this network has been considered largely invariant, we find that it exhibits extensive cell-type-specific interactions that contribute to cell identity. Here, we present Lollipop, a machine-learning framework, which predicts CTCF-mediated long-range interactions using genomic and epigenomic features. Using ChIA-PET data as benchmark, we demonstrate that Lollipop accurately predicts CTCF-mediated chromatin interactions both within and across cell types, and outperforms other methods based only on CTCF motif orientation. Predictions are confirmed computationally and experimentally by Chromatin Conformation Capture (3C). Moreover, our approach identifies other determinants of CTCF-mediated chromatin wiring, such as gene expression within the loops. Our study contributes to a better understanding about the underlying principles of CTCF-mediated chromatin interactions and their impact on gene expression.
Project description:The 11-zinc finger protein CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is a highly conserved protein, involved in imprinting, long-range chromatin interactions and transcription. To investigate its function in vivo, we generated mice with a conditional Ctcf knockout allele. Consistent with a previous report, we find that ubiquitous ablation of the Ctcf gene results in early embryonic lethality. Tissue-specific inactivation of CTCF in thymocytes specifically hampers the differentiation of alphabeta T cells and causes accumulation of late double-negative and immature single-positive cells in the thymus of mice. These cells are normally large and actively cycling, and contain elevated amounts of CTCF. In Ctcf knockout animals, however, these cells are small and blocked in the cell cycle due to increased expression of the cyclin-CDK inhibitors p21 and p27. Taken together, our results show that CTCF is required in a dose-dependent manner and is involved in cell cycle progression of alphabeta T cells in the thymus. We propose that CTCF positively regulates cell growth in rapidly dividing thymocytes so that appropriate number of cells are generated before positive and negative selection in the thymus.
Project description:Polycomb and Trithorax group proteins encode the epigenetic memory of cellular positional identity by establishing inheritable domains of repressive and active chromatin within the Hox clusters. Here we demonstrate that the CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) functions to insulate these adjacent yet antagonistic chromatin domains during embryonic stem cell differentiation into cervical motor neurons. Deletion of CTCF binding sites within the Hox clusters results in the expansion of active chromatin into the repressive domain. CTCF functions as an insulator by organizing Hox clusters into spatially disjoint domains. Ablation of CTCF binding disrupts topological boundaries such that caudal Hox genes leave the repressed domain and become subject to transcriptional activation. Hence, CTCF is required to insulate facultative heterochromatin from impinging euchromatin to produce discrete positional identities.
Project description:The CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) works together with the cohesin complex to drive the formation of chromatin loops and topologically associating domains, but its role in gene regulation has not been fully defined. Here, we investigated the effects of acute CTCF loss on chromatin architecture and transcriptional programs in mouse embryonic stem cells undergoing differentiation to neural precursor cells. We identified CTCF-dependent enhancer-promoter contacts genome-wide and found that they disproportionately affect genes that are bound by CTCF at the promoter and are dependent on long-distance enhancers. Disruption of promoter-proximal CTCF binding reduced both long-range enhancer-promoter contacts and transcription, which were restored by artificial tethering of CTCF to the promoter. Promoter-proximal CTCF binding is correlated with the transcription of over 2,000 genes across a diverse set of adult tissues. Taken together, the results of our study show that CTCF binding to promoters may promote long-distance enhancer-dependent transcription at specific genes in diverse cell types.
Project description:Chromatin organization is critical for cell growth, differentiation, and disease development, however, its functions in peripheral myelination and myelin repair remain elusive. In this report, we demonstrate that the CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), a crucial chromatin organizer, is essential for Schwann cell myelination and myelin regeneration after nerve injury. Inhibition of CTCF or its deletion blocks Schwann cell differentiation at the pro-myelinating stage, whereas overexpression of CTCF promotes the myelination program. We find that CTCF establishes chromatin interaction loops between enhancer and promoter regulatory elements and promotes expression of a key pro-myelinogenic factor EGR2. In addition, CTCF interacts with SUZ12, a component of polycomb-repressive-complex 2 (PRC2), to repress the transcriptional program associated with negative regulation of Schwann cell maturation. Together, our findings reveal a dual role of CTCF-dependent chromatin organization in promoting myelinogenic programs and recruiting chromatin-repressive complexes to block Schwann cell differentiation inhibitors to control peripheral myelination and repair.
Project description:Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a retrovirus that causes an aggressive T-cell malignancy and a variety of inflammatory conditions. The integrated provirus includes a single binding site for the epigenomic insulator, CCCTC-binding protein (CTCF), but its function remains unclear. In the current study, a mutant virus was examined that eliminates the CTCF-binding site. The mutation did not disrupt the kinetics and levels of virus gene expression, or establishment of or reactivation from latency. However, the mutation disrupted the epigenetic barrier function, resulting in enhanced DNA CpG methylation downstream of the CTCF binding site on both strands of the integrated provirus and H3K4Me3, H3K36Me3, and H3K27Me3 chromatin modifications both up- and downstream of the site. A majority of clonal cell lines infected with wild type HTLV-1 exhibited increased plus strand gene expression with CTCF knockdown, while expression in mutant HTLV-1 clonal lines was unaffected. These findings indicate that CTCF binding regulates HTLV-1 gene expression, DNA and histone methylation in an integration site dependent fashion.
Project description:The ubiquitous host protein, CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), is an essential regulator of cellular transcription and functions to maintain epigenetic boundaries, stabilise chromatin loops and regulate splicing of alternative exons. We have previously demonstrated that CTCF binds to the E2 open reading frame (ORF) of human papillomavirus (HPV) 18 and functions to repress viral oncogene expression in undifferentiated keratinocytes by co-ordinating an epigenetically repressed chromatin loop within HPV episomes. Keratinocyte differentiation disrupts CTCF-dependent chromatin looping of HPV18 episomes promoting induction of enhanced viral oncogene expression. To further characterise CTCF function in HPV transcription control we utilised direct, long-read Nanopore RNA-sequencing which provides information on the structure and abundance of full-length transcripts. Nanopore analysis of primary human keratinocytes containing HPV18 episomes before and after synchronous differentiation allowed quantification of viral transcript species, including the identification of low abundance novel transcripts. Comparison of transcripts produced in wild type HPV18 genome-containing cells to those identified in CTCF-binding deficient genome-containing cells identifies CTCF as a key regulator of differentiation-dependent late promoter activation, required for efficient E1^E4 and L1 protein expression. Furthermore, our data show that CTCF binding at the E2 ORF promotes usage of the downstream weak splice donor (SD) sites SD3165 and SD3284, to the dominant E4 splice acceptor site at nucleotide 3434. These findings demonstrate that in the HPV life cycle both early and late virus transcription programmes are facilitated by recruitment of CTCF to the E2 ORF. Author summary Oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the cause of a subset of epithelial cancers of the uterine cervix, other anogenital areas and the oropharynx. HPV infection is established in the basal cells of epithelia where a restricted programme of viral gene expression is required for replication and maintenance of the viral episome. Completion of the HPV life cycle is dependent on the maturation (differentiation) of infected cells which induces enhanced viral gene expression and induction of capsid production. We previously reported that the host cell transcriptional regulator, CTCF, is hijacked by HPV to control viral gene expression. In this study, we use long-read mRNA sequencing to quantitatively map the variety and abundance of HPV transcripts produced in early and late stages of the HPV life cycle and to dissect the function of CTCF in controlling HPV gene expression and transcript processing.