Functional diversity of CTCFs is encoded in their binding motifs


The CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) has diverse regulatory functions. However, the definitive characteristics of the CTCF binding motif required for its functional diversity still remains elusive. Here, we describe a new motif discovery workflow by which we have identified three CTCF binding motif variations with highly divergent functionalities. Supported by transcriptomic, epigenomic and chromatin-interactomic data, we show that the functional diversity of the CTCF binding motifs is strongly associated with their GC content, CpG dinucleotide coverage and relative DNA methylation level at the 12th position of the motifs. Further analysis suggested that the co-localization of cohesin, the key factor in cohesion of sister chromatids, is negatively correlated with the CpG coverage and the relative DNA methylation level at the 12th position. Finally, we present evidences for a hypothetical model in which chromatin interactions between promoters and distal regulatory regions are likely mediated by CTCFs binding to sequences with high CpG..

BMC Genomics