Boundary sequences flanking the mouse tyrosinase locus ensure faithful pattern of gene expression

Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 23;10(1):15494. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-72543-0.


Control of gene expression is dictated by cell-type specific regulatory sequences that physically organize the structure of chromatin, including promoters, enhancers and insulators. While promoters and enhancers convey cell-type specific activating signals, insulators prevent the cross-talk of regulatory elements within adjacent loci and safeguard the specificity of action of promoters and enhancers towards their targets in a tissue specific manner. Using the mouse tyrosinase (Tyr) locus as an experimental model, a gene whose mutations are associated with albinism, we described the chromatin structure in cells at two distinct transcriptional states. Guided by chromatin structure, through the use of Chromosome Conformation Capture (3C), we identified sequences at the 5' and 3' boundaries of this mammalian gene that function as enhancers and insulators. By CRISPR/Cas9-mediated chromosomal deletion, we dissected the functions of these two regulatory elements in vivo in the mouse, at the endogenous chromosomal context, and proved their mechanistic role as genomic insulators, shielding the Tyr locus from the expression patterns of adjacent genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / genetics
  • Gene Editing
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Genetic Loci / genetics*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / genetics*
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9