Aberrant activation of the TAL1 is associated with up to 60% of T-ALL cases and is involved in CTCF-mediated genome organization within the TAL1 locus, suggesting that CTCF boundary plays a pathogenic role in T-ALL. Here, we show that -31-Kb CTCF binding site (-31CBS) serves as chromatin boundary that defines topologically associating domain (TAD) and enhancer/promoter interaction required for TAL1 activation. Deleted or inverted -31CBS impairs TAL1 expression in a context-dependent manner. Deletion of -31CBS reduces chromatin accessibility and blocks long-range interaction between the +51 erythroid enhancer and TAL1 promoter-1 leading to inhibition of TAL1 expression in erythroid cells, but not T-ALL cells. However, in TAL1-expressing T-ALL cells, the leukemia-prone TAL1 promoter-IV specifically interacts with the +19 stem cell enhancer located 19 Kb downstream of TAL1 and this interaction is disrupted by the -31CBS inversion in T-ALL cells. Inversion of -31CBS in Jurkat cells alters chromatin accessibility, histone modifications and CTCF-mediated TAD leading to inhibition of TAL1 expression and TAL1-driven leukemogenesis. Thus, our data reveal that -31CBS acts as critical regulator to define +19-enhancer and the leukemic prone promoter IV interaction for TAL1 activation in T-ALL. Manipulation of CTCF boundary can alter TAL1 TAD and oncogenic transcription networks in leukemogenesis.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.