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1.  Ezh2-mediated repression of a transcriptional pathway upstream of Mmp9 maintains integrity of the developing vasculature 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2014;141(23):4610-4617.
Maintenance of vascular integrity is required for embryogenesis and organ homeostasis. However, the gene expression programs that stabilize blood vessels are poorly understood. Here, we show that the histone methyltransferase Ezh2 maintains integrity of the developing vasculature by repressing a transcriptional program that activates expression of Mmp9. Inactivation of Ezh2 in developing mouse endothelium caused embryonic lethality with compromised vascular integrity and increased extracellular matrix degradation. Genome-wide approaches showed that Ezh2 targets Mmp9 and its activators Fosl1 and Klf5. In addition, we uncovered Creb3l1 as an Ezh2 target that directly activates Mmp9 gene expression in the endothelium. Furthermore, genetic inactivation of Mmp9 rescued vascular integrity defects in Ezh2-deficient embryos. Thus, epigenetic repression of Creb3l1, Fosl1, Klf5 and Mmp9 by Ezh2 in endothelial cells maintains the integrity of the developing vasculature, potentially linking this transcriptional network to diseases with compromised vascular integrity.
doi:10.1242/dev.112607
PMCID: PMC4302930  PMID: 25359725
Ezh2; Epigenetics; Histone methylation; Vascular development; Vascular stability; Endothelium; Extracellular matrix; Mmp9; Mouse
2.  Epigenetic repression of cardiac progenitor gene expression by Ezh2 is required for postnatal cardiac homeostasis 
Nature Genetics  2012;44(3):343-347.
Adult-onset diseases can be associated with in utero events, but mechanisms for this remain unknown1,2. The polycomb histone methyltransferase, Ezh2, stabilizes transcription by depositing repressive marks during development that persist into adulthood3–9, but its function in postnatal organ homeostasis is unknown. We show that Ezh2 stabilizes cardiac gene expression and prevents cardiac pathology by repressing the homeodomain transcription factor Six1, which functions in cardiac progenitors but is stably silenced upon cardiac differentiation10. Ezh2 deletion in cardiac progenitors caused postnatal myocardial pathology and destabilized cardiac gene expression with activation of Six1-dependent skeletal muscle genes. Six1 induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and skeletal muscle gene expression. Furthermore, genetically reducing Six1 levels rescued the pathology of Ezh2-deficient hearts. Thus, Ezh2-mediated repression of Six1 in differentiating cardiac progenitors is essential for stable postnatal heart gene expression and homeostasis. Our results suggest that epigenetic dysregulation in embryonic progenitor cells predisposes to adult disease and dysregulated stress responses.
doi:10.1038/ng.1068
PMCID: PMC3288669  PMID: 22267199
3.  Chromatin structure of pluripotent stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells 
Pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells are specialized cells with a dynamic chromatin structure, which is intimately connected with their pluripotency and physiology. In recent years somatic cells have been reprogrammed to a pluripotent state through over-expression of a defined set of transcription factors. These cells, known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, recapitulate ES cell properties and can be differentiated to apparently all cell lineages, making iPS cells a suitable replacement for ES cells in future regenerative medicine. Chromatin modifiers play a key function in establishing and maintaining pluripotency, therefore, elucidating the mechanisms controlling chromatin structure in both ES and iPS cells is of utmost importance to understanding their properties and harnessing their therapeutic potential. In this review, we discuss recent studies that provide a genome-wide view of the chromatin structure signature in ES cells and iPS cells and that highlight the central role of histone modifiers and chromatin remodelers in pluripotency maintenance and induction.
doi:10.1093/bfgp/elq038
PMCID: PMC3080763  PMID: 21325400
embryonic stem cells; induced pluripotent stem cells; reprogramming; epigenetics; chromatin structure; differentiation
4.  Chromatin remodelling complex dosage modulates transcription factor function in heart development 
Nature communications  2011;2:187.
Dominant mutations in cardiac transcription factor genes cause human inherited congenital heart defects (CHDs); however, their molecular basis is not understood. Interactions between transcription factors and the Brg1/Brm-associated factor (BAF) chromatin remodelling complex suggest potential mechanisms; however, the role of BAF complexes in cardiogenesis is not known. In this study, we show that dosage of Brg1 is critical for mouse and zebrafish cardiogenesis. Disrupting the balance between Brg1 and disease-causing cardiac transcription factors, including Tbx5, Tbx20 and Nkx2–5, causes severe cardiac anomalies, revealing an essential allelic balance between Brg1 and these cardiac transcription factor genes. This suggests that the relative levels of transcription factors and BAF complexes are important for heart development, which is supported by reduced occupancy of Brg1 at cardiac gene promoters in Tbx5 haploinsufficient hearts. Our results reveal complex dosage-sensitive interdependence between transcription factors and BAF complexes, providing a potential mechanism underlying transcription factor haploinsufficiency, with implications for multigenic inheritance of CHDs.
doi:10.1038/ncomms1187
PMCID: PMC3096875  PMID: 21304516
5.  Chromatin remodelling complex dosage modulates transcription factor function in heart development 
Nature Communications  2011;2:187-.
Dominant mutations in cardiac transcription factor genes cause human inherited congenital heart defects (CHDs); however, their molecular basis is not understood. Interactions between transcription factors and the Brg1/Brm-associated factor (BAF) chromatin remodelling complex suggest potential mechanisms; however, the role of BAF complexes in cardiogenesis is not known. In this study, we show that dosage of Brg1 is critical for mouse and zebrafish cardiogenesis. Disrupting the balance between Brg1 and disease-causing cardiac transcription factors, including Tbx5, Tbx20 and Nkx2–5, causes severe cardiac anomalies, revealing an essential allelic balance between Brg1 and these cardiac transcription factor genes. This suggests that the relative levels of transcription factors and BAF complexes are important for heart development, which is supported by reduced occupancy of Brg1 at cardiac gene promoters in Tbx5 haploinsufficient hearts. Our results reveal complex dosage-sensitive interdependence between transcription factors and BAF complexes, providing a potential mechanism underlying transcription factor haploinsufficiency, with implications for multigenic inheritance of CHDs.
Inherited congenital heart defects are prevalent in the human population, but the molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. In this article, deficiency in the chromatin remodelling factor, Brg1, is shown to alter cardiac development in both mouse and zebrafish laboratory models.
doi:10.1038/ncomms1187
PMCID: PMC3096875  PMID: 21304516

Results 1-5 (5)