Chromatin insulator elements: establishing barriers to set heterochromatin boundaries

Barkess, G. and West, A. G. (2012) Chromatin insulator elements: establishing barriers to set heterochromatin boundaries. Epigenomics, 4(1), pp. 67-80. (doi: 10.2217/epi.11.112) (PMID:22332659)

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Epigenomic profiling has revealed that substantial portions of genomes in higher eukaryotes are organized into extensive domains of transcriptionally repressive chromatin. The boundaries of repressive chromatin domains can be fixed by DNA elements known as barrier insulators, to both shield neighboring gene expression and to maintain the integrity of chromosomal silencing. Here, we examine the current progress in identifying vertebrate barrier elements and their binding factors. We overview the design of the reporter assays used to define enhancer-blocking and barrier insulators. We look at the mechanisms vertebrate barrier proteins, such as USF1 and VEZF1, employ to counteract Polycomb- and heterochromatin-associated repression. We also undertake a critical analysis of whether CTCF could also act as a barrier protein. There is good evidence that barrier elements in vertebrates can form repressive chromatin domain boundaries. Future studies will determine whether barriers are frequently used to define repressive domain boundaries in vertebrates.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:West, Dr Adam
Authors: Barkess, G., and West, A. G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cancer Sciences
Journal Name:Epigenomics
Publisher:Future Medicine Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1750-192X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 Adam G West
First Published:First published in Epigenomics 4(1):67-80
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
365431Histone modifications at chromatin boundary elementsAdam WestBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BBS/B/08043RI CANCER SCIENCES
381911Understanding chromatin insulator elements and their roles in gene transcriptionAdam WestMedical Research Council (MRC)G0400180RI CANCER SCIENCES