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Open Access Research article

The chromosomal association/dissociation of the chromatin insulator protein Cp190 of Drosophila melanogaster is mediated by the BTB/POZ domain and two acidic regions

Daniel Oliver, Brian Sheehan, Heather South, Omar Akbari and Chi-Yun Pai*

Author affiliations

University of Nevada, Reno, Biology Department, NV 89557, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-101

Published: 31 December 2010

Abstract

Background

Chromatin insulators or boundary elements are a class of functional elements in the eukaryotic genome. They regulate gene transcription by interfering with promoter-enhancer communication. The Cp190 protein of Drosophila melanogaster is essential to the function of at least three-types of chromatin insulator complexes organized by Su(Hw), CTCF and BEAF32.

Results

We mapped functional regions of Cp190 in vivo and identified three domains that are essential for the insulator function and for the viability of flies: the BTB/POZ domain, an aspartic acid-rich (D-rich) region and a C-terminal glutamic acid-rich (E-rich) region. Other domains including the centrosomal targeting domain and the zinc fingers are dispensable. The N-terminal CP190BTB-D fragment containing the BTB/POZ domain and the D-rich region is sufficient to mediate association with all three types of insulator complexes. The fragment however is not sufficient for insulator activity or viability. The Cp190 and CP190BTB-D are regulated differently in cells treated with heat-shock. The Cp190 dissociated from chromosomes during heat-shock, indicating that dissociation of Cp190 with chromosomes can be regulated. In contrast, the CP190BTB-D fragment didn't dissociate from chromosomes in the same heat-shocked condition, suggesting that the deleted C-terminal regions have a role in regulating the dissociation of Cp190 with chromosomes.

Conclusions

The N-terminal fragment of Cp190 containing the BTB/POZ domain and the D-rich region mediates association of Cp190 with all three types of insulator complexes and that the E-rich region of Cp190 is required for dissociation of Cp190 from chromosomes during heat-shock. The heat-shock-induced dissociation is strong evidence indicating that dissociation of the essential insulator protein Cp190 from chromosomes is regulated. Our results provide a mechanism through which activities of an insulator can be modulated by internal and external cues.