First described in 1991, Yin Yang 1 (YY1) is a transcription factor that is ubiquitously expressed throughout mammalian cells. It regulates both transcriptional activation and repression, in a seemingly context-dependent manner. YY1 has a well-established role in the development of the central nervous system, where it is involved in neurogenesis and maintenance of homeostasis in the developing brain. In neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease, the crucial role of YY1 in cellular processes in the central nervous system is further underscored. In this mini-review, we discuss the various mechanisms leading to the transcriptional activating and repressing roles of YY1, including its role as a traditional transcription factor, its interactions with cofactors and chromatin modifiers, the role of YY1 in the non-coding genome and 3D chromatin organization and the possible implications of the phase-separation mechanism on YY1 function. We provide examples on how these processes can be involved in normal development and how alterations can lead to various diseases.

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Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Biophysical Genomics, Department Cell Biology & Genetics

Verheul, T.C.J., van Hijfte, L., Perenthaler, E., & Barakat, T.S. (2020). The Why of YY1: Mechanisms of Transcriptional Regulation by Yin Yang 1. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 8. doi:10.3389/fcell.2020.592164