ASCL1 interacts with the mSWI/SNF at distal regulatory elements to regulate neural differentiation

Cristina Dias*, Oana Paun, Yu Xuan Tan, Harshil Patel, Clementina Cobolli-Gigli, Francois Guillemot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Pioneer transcription factors are thought to play pivotal roles in developmental processes by binding nucleosomal DNA to activate gene expression. The role of neurogenic pioneer factor ASCL1 in shaping chromatin landscape in human neurogenesis remains unclear. Here we show that ASCL1 acts as a pioneer transcription factor in a transient population of progenitors. Using an in vitro ASCL1 knockout model we show it drives progenitor differentiation by cis-regulation both as a classical pioneer factor and as a non-pioneer remodeler, where ASCL1 binds permissive chromatin to induce chromatin conformation changes. We find ASCL1 directly interacts with mammalian BAF SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes, essential for neurogenesis and involved in multiple neurodevelopmental disorders. ASCL1 acts as a non-pioneer chromatin remodeler to regulate gene expression at a subset of loci, requiring mBAF SWI/SNF’s ATPase activity for cis-regulation of gene expression. Our findings demonstrate that ASCL1 is a key chromatin remodeler in human neurogenesis, uncovering an alternative mechanism of remodeling function dependent on partner ATPase activity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2022


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