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CTCF, WAPL and PDS5 proteins control the formation of TADs and loops by cohesin

By Gordana Wutz, Csilla VĂ¡rnai, Kota Nagasaka, David A. Cisneros, Roman Stocsits, Wen Tang, Stefan Schoenfelder, Gregor Jessberger, Matthias Muhar, M Julius Hossain, Nike Walther, Birgit Koch, Moritz Kueblbeck, Jan Ellenberg, Johannes Zuber, Peter Fraser, Jan-Michael Peters

Posted 17 Aug 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/177444 (published DOI: 10.15252/embj.201798004)

Mammalian genomes are organized into compartments, topologically-associating domains (TADs) and loops to facilitate gene regulation and other chromosomal functions. Compartments are formed by nucleosomal interactions, but how TADs and loops are generated is unknown. It has been proposed that cohesin forms these structures by extruding loops until it encounters CTCF, but direct evidence for this hypothesis is missing. Here we show that cohesin suppresses compartments but is essential for TADs and loops, that CTCF defines their boundaries, and that WAPL and its PDS5 binding partners control the length of chromatin loops. In the absence of WAPL and PDS5 proteins, cohesin passes CTCF sites with increased frequency, forms extended chromatin loops, accumulates in axial chromosomal positions (vermicelli) and condenses chromosomes to an extent normally only seen in mitosis. These results show that cohesin has an essential genome-wide function in mediating long-range chromatin interactions and support the hypothesis that cohesin creates these by loop extrusion, until it is delayed by CTCF in a manner dependent on PDS5 proteins, or until it is released from DNA by WAPL.

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