The modification of chromatin structure is an important regulatory mechanism for developmental gene expression. Differential expression of the mammalian ISWI genes, SNF2H and SNF2L, has suggested that they possess distinct developmental roles. Here we describe the purification and characterization of the first human SNF2L-containing complex. The subunit composition suggests that it represents the human ortholog of the Drosophila nucleosome-remodeling factor (NURF) complex. Human NURF (hNURF) is enriched in brain, and we demonstrate that it regulates human Engrailed, a homeodomain protein that regulates neuronal development in the mid-hindbrain. Furthermore, we show that hNURF potentiates neurite outgrowth in cell culture. Taken together, our data suggess a role for an ISWI complex in neuronal growth.
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