Smarcc1/Baf155 couples self-renewal gene repression with changes in chromatin structure in mouse embryonic stem cells

Stem Cells. 2009 Dec;27(12):2979-91. doi: 10.1002/stem.223.


Little is known about the molecular mechanism(s) governing differentiation decisions in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). To identify factors critical for ESC lineage formation, we carried out a functional genetic screen for factors affecting Nanog promoter activity during mESC differentiation. We report that members of the PBAF chromatin remodeling complex, including Smarca4/Brg1, Smarcb1/Baf47, Smarcc1/Baf155, and Smarce1/Baf57, are required for the repression of Nanog and other self-renewal gene expression upon mouse ESC (mESC) differentiation. Knockdown of Smarcc1 or Smarce1 suppressed loss of Nanog expression in multiple forms of differentiation. This effect occurred in the absence of self-renewal factors normally required for Nanog expression (e.g., Oct4), possibly indicating that changes in chromatin structure, rather than loss of self-renewal gene transcription per se, trigger differentiation. Consistent with this notion, mechanistic studies demonstrated that expression of Smarcc1 is necessary for heterochromatin formation and chromatin compaction during differentiation. Collectively, our data reveal that Smarcc1 plays important roles in facilitating mESCs differentiation by coupling gene repression with global and local changes in chromatin structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Protein Binding
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Nanog protein, mouse
  • Smarcc1 protein, mouse
  • Smarce1 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors