Cofactor squelching: Artifact or fact?

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Cofactor squelching is the term used to describe competition between transcription factors (TFs) for a limited amount of cofactors in a cell with the functional consequence that TFs in a given cell interfere with the activity of each other. Since cofactor squelching was proposed based primarily on reporter assays some 30 years ago, it has remained controversial, and the idea that it could be a physiologically relevant mechanism for transcriptional repression has not received much support. However, recent genome-wide studies have demonstrated that signal-dependent TFs are very often absent from the enhancers that are acutely repressed by those signals, which is consistent with an indirect mechanism of repression such as squelching. Here we review these recent studies in the light of the classical studies of cofactor squelching, and we discuss how TF cooperativity in so-called hotspots and super-enhancers may sensitize these to cofactor squelching.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)618-626
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Journal Article


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