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CHD7 cooperates with PBAF to control multipotent neural crest formation.

Heterozygous mutations in the gene encoding the CHD (chromodomain helicase DNA-binding domain) member CHD7, an ATP-dependent chromatin remodeller homologous to the Drosophila trithorax-group protein Kismet, result in a complex constellation of congenital anomalies called CHARGE syndrome, which is a sporadic, autosomal dominant disorder characterized by malformations of the craniofacial structures, peripheral nervous system, ears, eyes and heart. Although it was postulated 25 years ago that CHARGE syndrome results from the abnormal development of the neural crest, this hypothesis remained untested. Here we show that, in both humans and Xenopus, CHD7 is essential for the formation of multipotent migratory neural crest (NC), a transient cell population that is ectodermal in origin but undergoes a major transcriptional reprogramming event to acquire a remarkably broad differentiation potential and ability to migrate throughout the body, giving rise to craniofacial bones and cartilages, the peripheral nervous system, pigmentation and cardiac structures. We demonstrate that CHD7 is essential for activation of the NC transcriptional circuitry, including Sox9, Twist and Slug. In Xenopus embryos, knockdown of Chd7 or overexpression of its catalytically inactive form recapitulates all major features of CHARGE syndrome. In human NC cells CHD7 associates with PBAF (polybromo- and BRG1-associated factor-containing complex) and both remodellers occupy a NC-specific distal SOX9 enhancer and a conserved genomic element located upstream of the TWIST1 gene. Consistently, during embryogenesis CHD7 and PBAF cooperate to promote NC gene expression and cell migration. Our work identifies an evolutionarily conserved role for CHD7 in orchestrating NC gene expression programs, provides insights into the synergistic control of distal elements by chromatin remodellers, illuminates the patho-embryology of CHARGE syndrome, and suggests a broader function for CHD7 in the regulation of cell motility.

Pubmed ID: 20130577


  • Bajpai R
  • Chen DA
  • Rada-Iglesias A
  • Zhang J
  • Xiong Y
  • Helms J
  • Chang CP
  • Zhao Y
  • Swigut T
  • Wysocka J



Publication Data

February 18, 2010

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R01 CA126832
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R01 CA126832-01A1
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK082664
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK082664-01
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL085345
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL085345-04
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01DK082664
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01HL085345

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Movement
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA Helicases
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Multipotent Stem Cells
  • Neural Crest
  • Protein Binding
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor
  • Syndrome
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Twist Transcription Factor
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • Xenopus laevis