CTCF is a versatile zinc finger DNA-binding protein that functions as a highly conserved epigenetic transcriptional regulator. CTCF is known to act as a chromosomal insulator, bind promoter regions, and facilitate long-range chromatin interactions. In mammals, CTCF is active in the regulatory regions of some genes that exhibit genomic imprinting, acting as insulator on only one parental allele to facilitate parent-specific expression. In Drosophila, CTCF acts as a chromatin insulator and is thought to be actively involved in the global organization of the genome.
To determine whether CTCF regulates imprinting in Drosophila, we generated CTCF mutant alleles and assayed gene expression from the imprinted Dp(1;f)LJ9 mini-X chromosome in the presence of reduced CTCF expression. We observed disruption of the maternal imprint when CTCF levels were reduced, but no effect was observed on the paternal imprint. The effect was restricted to maintenance of the imprint and was specific for the Dp(1;f)LJ9 mini-X chromosome.
CTCF in Drosophila functions in maintaining parent-specific expression from an imprinted domain as it does in mammals. We propose that Drosophila CTCF maintains an insulator boundary on the maternal X chromosome, shielding genes from the imprint-induced silencing that occurs on the paternally inherited X chromosome.
See commentary: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/104
Biology | Genetics and Genomics
MacDonald et al. BMC Biology 2010, 8:105