The genome-wide promoter interactome is primarily maintained and regulated by architectural proteins such as CTCF and cohesin. However, some studies suggest a role for non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in this process. We aimed to characterise the regulatory role of RNA-mediated promoter interactions in the control of gene expression. We integrated genome-wide datasets of RNA-chromatin and promoter-genome interactions in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to identify putative RNA-mediated promoter interactions. We discovered that CTCF sites were enriched in RNA-PIRs (promoter interacting regions co-localising with RNA-chromatin interaction sites) and genes interacting with RNA-PIRs containing CTCF sites showed higher expression levels. One of the long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) expressed in hESCs, Syntaxin 18-Antisense 1 (STX18-AS1), appeared to be involved in an insulating promoter interaction with the neighbouring gene, MSX1. By knocking down STX18-AS1, the MSX1 promoter-PIR interaction was intensified and the target gene (MSX1) expression was down-regulated. Conversely, reduced MSX1 promoter-PIR interactions, resulting from CRISPR-Cas9 deletion of the PIR, increased the expression of MSX1. We conclude that STX18-AS1 RNA antagonised local CTCF-mediated insulating promoter interactions to augment gene expression. Such down-regulation of the insulating promoter interactions by this novel mechanism may explain the higher expression of genes interacting with RNA-PIRs linked to CTCF sites.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2021|