Somatic progenitors suppress differentiation to maintain tissue self-renewal. The mammalian SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex regulates nucleosome packaging to control differentiation in embryonic and adult stem cells. Catalytic Brg1 and Brm subunits are required for these processes; however, the roles of SWI/SNF regulatory subunits are not fully understood. Here, we show that ACTL6a/BAF53A modulates the SWI/SNF complex to suppress differentiation in epidermis. Conditional loss of ACTL6a resulted in terminal differentiation, cell-cycle exit, and hypoplasia, whereas ectopic expression of ACTL6a promoted the progenitor state. A significant portion of genes regulated by ACTL6a were found to also be targets of KLF4, a known activator of epidermal differentiation. Mechanistically, we show that ACTL6a prevents SWI/SNF complex binding to promoters of KLF4 and other differentiation genes and that SWI/SNF catalytic subunits are required for full induction of KLF4 targets. Thus, ACTL6a controls the epidermal progenitor state by sequestering SWI/SNF to prevent activation of differentiation programs.
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