Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.284, No.4, 987-992, 2001
The sea urchin sns insulator blocks CMV enhancer following integration in human cells
Insulators are a new class of genetic elements that attenuate enhancer function directionally. Previously, we characterized in sea urchin a 265-bp-long insulator, termed sns. To test insulator activity following stable integration in human cells, we placed sns between the CMV enhancer and a th promoter upstream of a GFP transgene of plasmid or retroviral vectors. In contrast to controls, cells transfected or transduced with insulated constructs displayed a barely detectable fluorescence. Southern blot and PCR ruled out vector rearrangement following integration into host DNA; RNase protection confirmed the enhancer blocking activity. Finally, we demonstrate that two cis-acting sequences, previously characterized in sea urchin, are also specific binding sites for human proteins. We conclude that sns interferes with enhancer promoter interaction also in a human chromatin context. The relatively small size, evolutionary conservation and apparent lack. of enhancer specificity might result useful in gene transfer experiments in human cells.