CTCF is a unique, highly conserved, and ubiquitously expressed 11 zinc finger (ZF) transcriptional factor with multiple DNA site specificities. It is able to bind to varying target sequences to perform different regulatory roles, including promoter activation or repression, creating hormone-responsive gene silencing elements, and functional block of enhancer-promoter interactions. Because different sets of ZFs are utilized to recognize different CTCF target DNA sites, each of the diverse DNA.CTCF complexes might engage different essential protein partners to define distinct functional readouts. To identify such proteins, we developed an affinity chromatography method based on matrix-immobilized purified recombinant CTCF. This approach resulted in isolation of several CTCF protein partners. One of these was identified as the multifunctional Y-box DNA/RNA-binding factor, YB-1, known to be involved in transcription, replication, and RNA processing. We examined CTCF/YB-1 interaction by reciprocal immunoprecipitation experiments with anti-CTCF and anti-YB-1 antibodies, and found that CTCF and YB-1 form complexes in vivo. We show that the bacterially expressed ZF domain of CTCF is fully sufficient to retain YB-1 in vitro. To assess possible functional significance of CTCF/YB-1 binding, we employed the very first identified by us, negatively regulated, target for CTCF (c-myc oncogene promoter) as a model in co-transfection assays with both CTCF and YB-1 expression vectors. Although expression of YB-1 alone had no effect, co-expression with CTCF resulted in a marked enhancement of CTCF-driven c-myc transcriptional repression. Thus our findings demonstrate, for the first time, the biological relevance of the CTCF/YB-1 interaction.
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