Regulation of cancer epigenomes with a histone-binding synthetic transcription factor

David B. Nyer, Rene M. Daer, Daniel Vargas, Caroline Hom, Karmella Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Chromatin proteins have expanded the mammalian synthetic biology toolbox by enabling control of active and silenced states at endogenous genes. Others have reported synthetic proteins that bind DNA and regulate genes by altering chromatin marks, such as histone modifications. Previously, we reported the first synthetic transcriptional activator, the "Polycomb-based transcription factor" (PcTF) that reads histone modifications through a protein-protein interaction between the polycomb chromodomain motif and trimethylated lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3). Here, we describe the genome-wide behavior of the polycomb-based transcription factor fusion protein. Transcriptome and chromatin profiling revealed several polycomb-based transcription factor-sensitive promoter regions marked by distal H3K27me3 and proximal fusion protein binding. These results illuminate a mechanism in which polycomb-based transcription factor interactions bridge epigenomic marks with the transcription initiation complex at target genes. In three cancer-derived human cell lines tested here, some target genes encode developmental regulators and tumor suppressors. Thus, the polycomb-based transcription factor represents a powerful new fusion protein-based method for cancer research and treatment where silencing marks are translated into direct gene activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
Journalnpj Genomic Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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