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Development. 2011 Jun;138(12):2441-50. doi: 10.1242/dev.056572.

Sequential changes at differentiation gene promoters as they become active in a stem cell lineage.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-2685, USA. xchen32@jhu.edu

Abstract

Transcriptional silencing of terminal differentiation genes by the Polycomb group (PcG) machinery is emerging as a key feature of precursor cells in stem cell lineages. How, then, is this epigenetic silencing reversed for proper cellular differentiation? Here, we investigate how the developmental program reverses local PcG action to allow expression of terminal differentiation genes in the Drosophila male germline stem cell (GSC) lineage. We find that the silenced state, set up in precursor cells, is relieved through developmentally regulated sequential events at promoters once cells commit to spermatocyte differentiation. The programmed events include global downregulation of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) components, recruitment of hypophosphorylated RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to promoters, as well as the expression and action of testis-specific homologs of TATA-binding protein-associated factors (tTAFs). In addition, action of the testis-specific meiotic arrest complex (tMAC), a tissue-specific version of the MIP/dREAM complex, is required both for recruitment of tTAFs to target differentiation genes and for proper cell type-specific localization of PRC1 components and tTAFs within the spermatocyte nucleolus. Together, the action of the tMAC and tTAF cell type-specific chromatin and transcription machinery leads to loss of Polycomb and release of stalled Pol II from the terminal differentiation gene promoters, allowing robust transcription.

PMID:
21610025
PMCID:
PMC3100706
DOI:
10.1242/dev.056572
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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