Analysis of KLF4 regulated genes in cancer cells reveals a role of DNA methylation in promoter- enhancer interactions

Olutobi Oyinlade, Shuang Wei, Kai Kammers, Sheng Liu, Shuyan Wang, Ding Ma, Zhi yong Huang, Jiang Qian, Heng Zhu, Jun Wan, Shuli Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Recent studies have revealed an unexpected role of DNA methylation at promoter regions in transcription activation. However, whether DNA methylation at enhancer regions activates gene expression and influences cellular functions remains to be determined. In this study, by employing the transcription factor krÜppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) that binds to methylated CpGs (mCpGs), we investigated the molecular outcomes of the recruitment of KLF4 to mCpGs at enhancer regions in human glioblastoma cells. First, by integrating KLF4 ChIP-seq, whole-genome bisulfite sequence, and H3K27ac ChIP-seq datasets, we found 1,299 highly methylated (β >0.5) KLF4 binding sites, three-quarters of which were located at putative enhancer regions, including gene bodies and intergenic regions. In the meantime, by proteomics, we identified 16 proteins as putative targets upregulated by KLF4-mCpG binding at enhancer regions. By chromosome conformation capture (3C) analysis, we demonstrated that KLF4 bound to methylated CpGs at the enhancer regions of the B-cell lymphocyte kinase (BLK) and Lim domain only protein 7 (LMO7) genes, and activated their expression via 3D chromatin loop formation with their promoter regions. Expression of mutant KLF4, which lacks KLF4 ability to bind methylated DNA, or removal of DNA methylation in enhancer regions by a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor abolished chromatin loop formation and gene expression, suggesting the essential role of DNA methylation in enhancer-promoter interactions. Finally, we performed functional assays and showed that BLK was involved in glioblastoma cell migration. Together, our study established the concept that DNA methylation at enhancer regions interacts with transcription factors to activate gene expression and influence cellular functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-768
Number of pages18
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018


  • B-cell lymphocyte kinase
  • Chromosome conformation capture
  • KrÜppel-like factor 4 (KLF4)
  • enhancer
  • methylated DNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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