YY1 Is a Structural Regulator of Enhancer-Promoter Loops

Cell. 2017 Dec 14;171(7):1573-1588.e28. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.11.008. Epub 2017 Dec 7.


There is considerable evidence that chromosome structure plays important roles in gene control, but we have limited understanding of the proteins that contribute to structural interactions between gene promoters and their enhancer elements. Large DNA loops that encompass genes and their regulatory elements depend on CTCF-CTCF interactions, but most enhancer-promoter interactions do not employ this structural protein. Here, we show that the ubiquitously expressed transcription factor Yin Yang 1 (YY1) contributes to enhancer-promoter structural interactions in a manner analogous to DNA interactions mediated by CTCF. YY1 binds to active enhancers and promoter-proximal elements and forms dimers that facilitate the interaction of these DNA elements. Deletion of YY1 binding sites or depletion of YY1 protein disrupts enhancer-promoter looping and gene expression. We propose that YY1-mediated enhancer-promoter interactions are a general feature of mammalian gene control.

Keywords: chromosome structure; enhancers; gene regulation; promoters.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • YY1 Transcription Factor / metabolism*


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • YY1 Transcription Factor
  • YY1 protein, human
  • Yy1 protein, mouse