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The relationship between transcription initiation RNAs and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) localization

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Author(s): Taft Ryan J | Hawkins Peter G | Mattick John S | Morris Kevin V

Journal: Epigenetics & Chromatin
ISSN 1756-8935

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 13;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Transcription initiation RNAs (tiRNAs) are nuclear localized 18 nucleotide RNAs derived from sequences immediately downstream of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) transcription start sites. Previous reports have shown that tiRNAs are intimately correlated with gene expression, RNA polymerase II binding and behaviors, and epigenetic marks associated with transcription initiation, but not elongation. Results In the present work, we show that tiRNAs are commonly found at genomic CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) binding sites in human and mouse, and that CTCF sites that colocalize with RNAPII are highly enriched for tiRNAs. To directly investigate the relationship between tiRNAs and CTCF we examined tiRNAs originating near the intronic CTCF binding site in the human tumor suppressor gene, p21 (cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A gene, also known as CDKN1A). Inhibition of CTCF-proximal tiRNAs resulted in increased CTCF localization and increased p21 expression, while overexpression of CTCF-proximal tiRNA mimics decreased CTCF localization and p21 expression. We also found that tiRNA-regulated CTCF binding influences the levels of trimethylated H3K27 at the alternate upstream p21 promoter, and affects the levels of alternate p21 (p21alt) transcripts. Extending these studies to another randomly selected locus with conserved CTCF binding we found that depletion of tiRNA alters nucleosome density proximal to sites of tiRNA biogenesis. Conclusions Taken together, these data suggest that tiRNAs modulate local epigenetic structure, which in turn regulates CTCF localization.

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