CTCF is a nuclear protein initially discovered for its role in enhancer-promoter insulation. It has been shown to play a role in genome architecture and in fact, its DNA binding sites are enriched at the borders of chromatin domains. Recently, we showed that depletion of CTCF impairs the DNA damage response to ionizing radiation. To investigate the relationship between chromatin domains and DNA damage repair, we present here clonogenic survival assays in different cell lines upon CTCF knockdown and ionizing irradiation. The application of a wide range of ionizing irradiation doses (0-10 Gy) allowed us to investigate the survival response through a biophysical model that accounts for the double-strand breaks' probability distribution onto chromatin domains. We demonstrate that the radiosensitivity of different cell lines is increased upon lowering the amount of the architectural protein. Our model shows that the deficiency in the DNA repair ability is related to the changes in the size of chromatin domains that occur when different amounts of CTCF are present in the nucleus.
Keywords: CTCF; DNA damage response; DNA repair; biophysical modeling; cancer; chromatin architecture; chromatin domain; clonogenic survival; ionizing radiation; radiosensitivity.