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J Biol Chem. 2002 May 3;277(18):15859-64. Epub 2002 Feb 15.

Maintenance of integrated proviral gene expression requires Brm, a catalytic subunit of SWI/SNF complex.

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  • 1Division of Host-Parasite Interaction, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


We show here that murine leukemia virus-based retrovirus vector transgene expression is rapidly silenced in human tumor cell lines lacking expression of Brm, a catalytic subunit of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex, even though these vectors can successfully enter, integrate, and initiate transcription. We detected this gene silencing as a reduction in the ratio of cells expressing the exogenous gene rather than a reduction in the average expression levels, indicating that down-regulation occurs in an all-or-none manner. Retroviral gene expression was protected from silencing and maintained in Brm-deficient host cells by exogenous expression of Brm but not BRG1, an alternative ATPase subunit in the SWI/SNF complex. Introduction of exogenous Brm to these cells suppressed recruitment of protein complexes containing YY1 and histone deacetylase (HDAC) 1 and 2 to the 5'-long terminal repeat region of the integrated provirus, leading to the enhancement of acetylation of specific lysine residues in histone H4 located in this region. Consistent with these observations, treatment of Brm-deficient cells with HDAC inhibitors but not DNA methylation inhibitors suppressed retroviral gene silencing. These results suggest that the Brm-containing SWI/SNF complex subfamily (trithorax-G) and a complex including YY1 and HDACs (Polycomb-G) counteract each other to maintain transcription of exogenously introduced genes.

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