Recently, much attention has been given to elucidate how long-range gene regulation comes into play and how histone modifications and distal transcription factor binding contribute toward this mechanism. Androgen receptor (AR), a key regulator of prostate cancer, has been shown to regulate its target genes via distal enhancers, leading to the hypothesis of global long-range gene regulation. However, despite numerous flows of newly generated data, the precise mechanism with respect to AR-mediated long-range gene regulation is still largely unknown. In this study, we carried out an integrated analysis combining several types of high-throughput data, including genome-wide distribution data of H3K4 di-methylation (H3K4me2), CCCTC binding factor (CTCF), AR and FoxA1 cistrome data as well as androgen-regulated gene expression data. We found that a subset of androgen-responsive genes was significantly enriched near AR/H3K4me2 overlapping regions and FoxA1 binding sites within the same CTCF block. Importantly, genes in this class were enriched in cancer-related pathways and were downregulated in clinical metastatic versus localized prostate cancer. Our results suggest a relatively short combinatorial long-range regulation mechanism facilitated by CTCF blocking. Under such a mechanism, H3K4me2, AR and FoxA1 within the same CTCF block combinatorially regulate a subset of distally located androgen-responsive genes involved in prostate carcinogenesis.
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