Cohesin is crucial for genome stability, cell division, transcription and chromatin organization. Its functions critically depend on NIPBL, the cohesin-loader protein that is found to be mutated in >60% of the cases of Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS). Other mutations are described in the cohesin subunits SMC1A, RAD21, SMC3 and the HDAC8 protein. In 25–30% of CdLS cases no mutation in the known CdLS genes is detected. Until now, functional elements in the noncoding genome were not characterized in the molecular etiology of CdLS and therefore are excluded from mutation screening, although the impact of such mutations has now been recognized for a wide range of diseases. We have identified different elements of the noncoding genome involved in regulation of the NIPBL gene. NIPBL-AS1 is a long non-coding RNA transcribed upstream and antisense to NIPBL. By knockdown and transcription blocking experiments, we could show that not the NIPBL-AS1 gene product, but its actual transcription is important to regulate NIPBL expression levels. This reveals a possibility to boost the transcriptional activity of the NIPBL gene by interfering with the NIPBL-AS1 lncRNA. Further, we have identified a novel distal enhancer regulating both NIPBL and NIPBL-AS1. Deletion of the enhancer using CRISPR genome editing in HEK293T cells reduces expression of NIPBL, NIPBL-AS1 as well as genes found to be dysregulated in CdLS.

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Journal PL o S Genetics (Online)
Zuin, J, Casa, V. (Valentina), Pozojevic, J, Kolovos, P, van den hout, M.C.G.N, van IJcken, W.F.J, … Wendt, K.S. (2017). Regulation of the cohesin-loading factor NIPBL: Role of the lncRNA NIPBL-AS1 and identification of a distal enhancer element. PL o S Genetics (Online), 13(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1007137