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1.  Dynamic changes in the genomic localization of DNA replication-related element binding factor during the cell cycle 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(10):1605-1615.
DREF was first characterized for its role in the regulation of transcription of genes encoding proteins involved in DNA replication and found to interact with sequences similar to the DNA recognition motif of the BEAF-32 insulator protein. Insulators are DNA-protein complexes that mediate intra- and inter-chromosome interactions. Several DNA-binding insulator proteins have been described in Drosophila, including BEAF-32, dCTCF and Su(Hw). Here we find that DREF and BEAF-32 co-localize at the same genomic sites, but their enrichment shows an inverse correlation. Furthermore, DREF co-localizes in the genome with other insulator proteins, suggesting that the function of this protein may require components of Drosophila insulators. This is supported by the finding that mutations in insulator proteins modulate DREF-induced cell proliferation. DREF persists bound to chromatin during mitosis at a subset of sites where it also co-localizes with dCTCF, BEAF-32 and CP190. These sites are highly enriched for sites where Orc2 and Mcm2 are present during interphase and at the borders of topological domains of chromosomes defined by Hi-C. The results suggest that DREF and insulator proteins may help maintain chromosome organization during the cell cycle and mark a subset of genomic sites for the assembly of pre-replication complexes and gene bookmarking during the M/G1 transition.
PMCID: PMC3680540  PMID: 23624840
transcription; chromatin; epigenetics; replication; cell cycle; mitosis
2.  The BEAF insulator regulates genes involved in cell polarity and neoplastic growth 
Developmental biology  2012;369(1):124-132.
Boundary Element Associated Factor-32 (BEAF-32) is an insulator protein predominantly found near gene promoters and thought to play a role in gene expression. We find that mutations in BEAF-32 are lethal, show loss of epithelial morphology in imaginal discs and cause neoplastic growth defects. To investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenotype, we carried out a genome-wide analysis of BEAF-32 localization in wing imaginal disc cells. Mutation of BEAF-32 results in miss-regulation of 3850 genes by at least 1.5-fold, 794 of which are bound by this protein in wing imaginal cells. Up-regulated genes encode proteins involved in cell polarity, cell proliferation and cell differentiation. Among the down-regulated genes are those encoding components of the wingless pathway, which is required for cell differentiation. Miss-regulation of these genes explains the unregulated cell growth and neoplastic phenotypes observed in imaginal tissues of BEAF-32 mutants.
PMCID: PMC3572785  PMID: 22743648
Transcription; Chromatin; Epigenetics; Cancer
3.  Identification and Characterization of Proteins Involved in Nuclear Organization Using Drosophila GFP Protein Trap Lines 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53091.
Strains from a collection of Drosophila GFP protein trap lines express GFP in the normal tissues where the endogenous protein is present. This collection can be used to screen for proteins distributed in the nucleus in a non-uniform pattern.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We analyzed four lines that show peripheral or punctate nuclear staining. One of these lines affects an uncharacterized gene named CG11138. The CG11138 protein shows a punctate distribution in the nuclear periphery similar to that of Drosophila insulator proteins but does not co-localize with known insulators. Interestingly, mutations in Lamin proteins result in alterations in CG11138 localization, suggesting that this protein may be a novel component of the nuclear lamina. A second line affects the Decondensation factor 31 (Df31) gene, which encodes a protein with a unique nuclear distribution that appears to segment the nucleus into four different compartments. The X-chromosome of males is confined to one of these compartments. We also find that Drosophila Nucleoplasmin (dNlp) is present in regions of active transcription. Heat shock leads to loss of dNlp from previously transcribed regions of polytene chromosome without redistribution to the heat shock genes. Analysis of Stonewall (Stwl), a protein previously found to be necessary for the maintenance of germline stem cells, shows that Stwl is present in a punctate pattern in the nucleus that partially overlaps with that of known insulator proteins. Finally we show that Stwl, dNlp, and Df31 form part of a highly interactive network. The properties of other components of this network may help understand the role of these proteins in nuclear biology.
These results establish screening of GFP protein trap alleles as a strategy to identify factors with novel cellular functions. Information gained from the analysis of CG11138 Stwl, dNlp, and Df31 sets the stage for future studies of these proteins.
PMCID: PMC3547006  PMID: 23341925
4.  Wt1 Flip-Flops Chromatin in a CTCF Domain 
Developmental cell  2011;21(3):389-390.
CTCF plays diverse roles in nuclear organization and transcriptional regulation. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Essafi et al. (2011) report a mechanism by which the repressive or active state of chromatin in a domain defined by CTCF can be switched by the Wt1 transcription factor to regulate gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3175091  PMID: 21920307
5.  Chromatin insulators: lessons from the fly 
Chromatin insulators are DNA–protein complexes with broad functions in nuclear biology. Drosophila has at least five different types of insulators; recent results suggest that these different insulators share some components that may allow them to function through common mechanisms. Data from genome-wide localization studies of insulator proteins indicate a possible functional specialization, with different insulators playing distinct roles in nuclear biology. Cells have developed mechanisms to control insulator activity by recruiting specialized proteins or by covalent modification of core components. Current results suggest that insulators set up cell-specific blueprints of nuclear organization that may contribute to the establishment of different patterns of gene expression during cell differentiation and development.
PMCID: PMC2742804  PMID: 19752045
Drosophila; insulator; transcription; nucleus
6.  DNA Topoisomerase II Modulates Insulator Function in Drosophila 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16562.
Insulators are DNA sequences thought to be important for the establishment and maintenance of cell-type specific nuclear architecture. In Drosophila there are several classes of insulators that appear to have unique roles in gene expression. The mechanisms involved in determining and regulating the specific roles of these insulator classes are not understood. Here we report that DNA Topoisomerase II modulates the activity of the Su(Hw) insulator. Downregulation of Topo II by RNAi or mutations in the Top2 gene result in disruption of Su(Hw) insulator function. This effect is mediated by the Mod(mdg4)2.2 protein, which is a unique component of the Su(Hw) insulator complex. Co-immunoprecipitation and yeast two-hybrid experiments show that Topo II and Mod(mdg4)2.2 proteins directly interact. In addition, mutations in Top2 cause a slight decrease of Mod(mdg4)2.2 transcript but have a dramatic effect on Mod(mdg4)2.2 protein levels. In the presence of proteasome inhibitors, normal levels of Mod(mdg4)2.2 protein and its binding to polytene chromosomes are restored. Thus, Topo II is required to prevent Mod(mdg4)2.2 degradation and, consequently, to stabilize Su(Hw) insulator-mediated chromatin organization.
PMCID: PMC3029388  PMID: 21304601

Results 1-6 (6)