A novel chromatin insulator regulates the chicken folate receptor gene from the influence of nearby constitutive heterochromatin and the ?-globin locus. Academic Article uri icon


  • The three-dimensional architecture of genomes provides new insights about genome organization and function, but many aspects remain unsolved at the local genomic scale. Here we investigate the regulation of two erythroid-specific loci, a folate receptor gene (FOLR1) and the ?-globin gene cluster, which are separated by 16kb of constitutive heterochromatin. We found that in early erythroid differentiation the FOLR1 gene presents a permissive chromatin configuration that allows its expression. Once the transition to the next differentiation state occurs, the heterochromatin spreads into the FOLR1 domain, concomitant with the dissociation of CTCF from a novel binding site, thereby resulting in irreversible silencing of the FOLR1 gene. We demonstrate that the sequences surrounding the CTCF-binding site possess classical insulator properties in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, the chicken cHS4 ?-globin insulator present on the other side of the heterochromatic segment is in a constitutive open chromatin configuration, with CTCF constantly bound from the early stages of erythroid differentiation. Therefore, this study demonstrates that the 16kb of constitutive heterochromatin contributes to silencing of the FOLR1 gene during erythroid differentiation.

publication date

  • August 2015