CTCF is a uniquely versatile transcription regulator linked to epigenetics and disease

Trends Genet. 2001 Sep;17(9):520-7. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(01)02366-6.


CTCF is an evolutionarily conserved zinc finger (ZF) phosphoprotein that binds through combinatorial use of its 11 ZFs to approximately 50 bp target sites that have remarkable sequence variation. Formation of different CTCF-DNA complexes, some of which are methylation-sensitive, results in distinct functions, including gene activation, repression, silencing and chromatin insulation. Disrupting the spectrum of target specificities by ZF mutations or by abnormal selective methylation of targets is associated with cancer. CTCF emerges, therefore, as a central player in networks linking expression domains with epigenetics and cell growth regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, myc
  • Genetics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics*


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CTCF protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors