CTCF modulates Estrogen Receptor function through specific chromatin and nuclear matrix interactions

Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Dec 15;44(22):10588-10602. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw785. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Enhancer regions and transcription start sites of estrogen-target regulated genes are connected by means of Estrogen Receptor long-range chromatin interactions. Yet, the complete molecular mechanisms controlling the transcriptional output of engaged enhancers and subsequent activation of coding genes remain elusive. Here, we report that CTCF binding to enhancer RNAs is enriched when breast cancer cells are stimulated with estrogen. CTCF binding to enhancer regions results in modulation of estrogen-induced gene transcription by preventing Estrogen Receptor chromatin binding and by hindering the formation of additional enhancer-promoter ER looping. Furthermore, the depletion of CTCF facilitates the expression of target genes associated with cell division and increases the rate of breast cancer cell proliferation. We have also uncovered a genomic network connecting loci enriched in cell cycle regulator genes to nuclear lamina that mediates the CTCF function. The nuclear lamina and chromatin interactions are regulated by estrogen-ER. We have observed that the chromatin loops formed when cells are treated with estrogen establish contacts with the nuclear lamina. Once there, the portion of CTCF associated with the nuclear lamina interacts with enhancer regions, limiting the formation of ER loops and the induction of genes present in the loop. Collectively, our results reveal an important, unanticipated interplay between CTCF and nuclear lamina to control the transcription of ER target genes, which has great implications in the rate of growth of breast cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CTCF protein, human
  • Chromatin
  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Repressor Proteins