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Essential role of ARID2 protein-containing SWI/SNF complex in tissue-specific gene expression

Author(s): Xu F, Flowers S, Moran E


Unfolding of the gene expression program that converts precursor cells to their terminally differentiated counterparts is critically dependent on the nucleosome-remodeling activity of the mammalian SWI/SNF complex. The complex can be powered by either of two alternative ATPases, BRM or BRG1. BRG1 is critical for development and the activation of tissue specific genes and is found in two major stable configurations. The complex of BRG1-associated factors termed BAF is the originally characterized form of mammalian SWI/SNF. A more recently recognized configuration shares many of the same subunits but is termed PBAF in recognition of a unique subunit, the polybromo protein (PBRM1). Two other unique subunits, BRD7 and ARID2, are also diagnostic of PBAF. PBAF plays an essential role in development, apparent from the embryonic lethality of Pbmr1-null mice, but very little is known about the role of PBAF, or its signature subunits, in tissue-specific gene expression in individual differentiation programs. Osteoblast differentiation is an attractive model for tissue-specific gene expression because the process is highly regulated and remains tightly synchronized over a period of several weeks. This model was used here, with a stable shRNA-mediated depletion approach, to examine the role of the signature PBAF subunit, ARID2, during differentiation. This analysis identifies a critical role for ARID2-containing complexes in promoting osteoblast differentiation and supports a view that the PBAF subset of SWI/SNF contributes importantly to maintaining cellular identity and activating tissue-specific gene expression.

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