Epigenetic Regulation of Genomic Imprinting and Higher Order Chromatin Conformation

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The genetic information encoded by the DNA sequence, can be expressed in different ways. Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon that results in monoallelic expression of imprinted genes in a parent of origin-dependent manner. Imprinted genes are frequently found in clusters and can share common regulatory elements. Most of the imprinted genes are regulated by Imprinting Control Regions (ICRs). H19/Igf2 region is a well known imprinted cluster, which is regulated by insulator function of ICR located upstream of the H19 gene. It has been proposed that the epigenetic control of the insulator function of H19 ICR involves organization of higher order chromatin interactions.In this study we have investigated the role of post-translational modification in regulating insulator protein CTCF (CCCTC-binding factor). The results indicated novel links between poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation and CTCF, which are essential for regulating insulators function.We also studied the higher order chromatin conformation of Igf2/H19 region. The results indicated there are different chromatin structures on the parental alleles. We identified CTCF-dependent loop on the maternal allele which is different from the paternal chromatin and is essential for proper imprinting of Igf2 and H19 genes. The interaction of H19 ICR with Differentially Methylated Regions (DMRs) of Igf2 in a parent-specific manner maintains differential epigenetic marks on maternal and paternal alleles.The results indicate that CTCF occupies specific sites on highly condensed mitotic chromosomes. CTCF-dependent long-range key interaction on the maternal allele is maintained during mitosis, suggesting the possible epigenetic memory of dividing cells.In this study, we developed a new method called Circular Chromosome Conformation Capture (4C) to screen genome-wide interactions with H19 ICR. The results indicated there are wide intra- and inter-chromosomal interactions which are mostly dependent on CTCF-binding site at H19 ICR.These observations suggest new aspects of epigenetic regulation of the H19/Igf2 imprinted region and higher order chromatin structure.