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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 10;8(6):e64880. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064880. Print 2013.

The elongation complex components BRD4 and MLLT3/AF9 are transcriptional coactivators of nuclear retinoid receptors.

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  • 1European Genomic Institute for Diabetes-EGID, FR 3508, Lille, France.


Nuclear all-trans retinoic acid receptors (RARs) initiate early transcriptional events which engage pluripotent cells to differentiate into specific lineages. RAR-controlled transactivation depends mostly on agonist-induced structural transitions in RAR C-terminus (AF-2), thus bridging coactivators or corepressors to chromatin, hence controlling preinitiation complex assembly. However, the contribution of other domains of RAR to its overall transcriptional activity remains poorly defined. A proteomic characterization of nuclear proteins interacting with RAR regions distinct from the AF-2 revealed unsuspected functional properties of the RAR N-terminus. Indeed, mass spectrometry fingerprinting identified the Bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4) and ALL1-fused gene from chromosome 9 (AF9/MLLT3), known to associate with and regulates the activity of Positive Transcription Elongation Factor b (P-TEFb), as novel RAR coactivators. In addition to promoter sequences, RAR binds to genomic, transcribed regions of retinoid-regulated genes, in association with RNA polymerase II and as a function of P-TEFb activity. Knockdown of either AF9 or BRD4 expression affected differentially the neural differentiation of stem cell-like P19 cells. Clusters of retinoid-regulated genes were selectively dependent on BRD4 and/or AF9 expression, which correlated with RAR association to transcribed regions. Thus RAR establishes physical and functional links with components of the elongation complex, enabling the rapid retinoid-induced induction of genes required for neuronal differentiation. Our data thereby extends the previously known RAR interactome from classical transcriptional modulators to components of the elongation machinery, and unravel a functional role of RAR in transcriptional elongation.

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