Macrophages play an important role in immunity and homeostasis. Upon pathogen recognition via specific receptors, they rapidly induce inflammatory responses. This process is tightly controlled at the transcriptional level. The DNA binding zinc-finger protein CCCTC-binding factor (Ctcf) is a crucial regulator of long-range chromatin interactions and coordinates specific communication between transcription factors and gene expression processes. In this study, the Ctcf gene was specifically deleted in myeloid cells by making use of the transgenic Cre-LoxP system. Conditional deletion of the Ctcf gene in myeloid cells induced a mild phenotype in vivo. Ctcf-deficient mice exhibited significantly reduced expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II in the liver. Ctcf-deficient macrophages demonstrated a normal surface phenotype and phagocytosis capacity. Upon Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulation, they produced normal levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-12 and IL-6, but manifested a strongly impaired capacity to produce tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) and IL-10, as well as to express the IL-10 family members IL-19, IL-20 and IL-24. Taken together, our data demonstrate a role of Ctcf that involves fine-tuning of macrophage function.

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Cellular & Molecular Immunology
Department of Pulmonology

Nikolic, T, Movita, D, Lambers, M.E.H, Ribeiro de Almeida, C.A, Biesta, P.J, Kreefft, K, … Hendriks, R.W. (2014). The DNA-binding factor Ctcf critically controls gene expression in macrophages. Cellular & Molecular Immunology, 11(1), 58–70. doi:10.1038/cmi.2013.41