The removal of histone H3 lysine27 (H3K27) trimethylation mark is important for the robust induction of many cell type-specific genes during differentiation. Here we show that UTX, a H3K27 demethylase, acts as a critical switch to promote a cardiac-specific gene program. UTX-deficient ESCs failed to develop heart-like rhythmic contractions under a cardiac differentiation condition. UTX-deficient mice show severe defects in heart development and embryonic lethality. We found that UTX is recruited to cardiac-specific enhancers by associating with core cardiac transcription factors and demethylates H3K27 residues in cardiac genes. In addition, UTX facilitates the recruitment of Brg1 to the cardiac-specific enhancers. Together, our data reveal key roles for UTX in a timely transition from poised to active chromatin in cardiac genes during heart development and a fundamental mechanism by which a H3K27 demethylase triggers tissue-specific chromatin changes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology