Insulators in plants: Progress and open questions

Amina Kurbidaeva, Michael Purugganan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The genomes of higher eukaryotes are partitioned into topologically associated domains or TADs, and insulators (also known as boundary elements) are the key elements responsible for their formation and maintenance. Insulators were first identified and extensively studied in Drosophila as well as mammalian genomes, and have also been described in yeast and plants. In addition, many insulator proteins are known in Drosophila, and some have been investigated in mammals. However, much less is known about this important class of non-coding DNA elements in plant genomes. In this review, we take a detailed look at known plant insulators across different species and provide an overview of potential determinants of plant insulator functions, including cis-elements and boundary proteins. We also discuss methods previously used in attempts to identify plant insulators, provide a perspective on their importance for research and biotechnology, and discuss areas of potential future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1422
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Architectural proteins
  • Chromatin
  • Genome organization
  • Insulator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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