SOX10 is required for melanocyte development and maintenance, and has been linked to melanoma initiation and progression. However, the molecular mechanisms by which SOX10 guides the appropriate gene expression programs necessary to promote the melanocyte lineage are not fully understood. Here we employ genetic and epigenomic analysis approaches to uncover novel genomic targets and previously unappreciated molecular roles of SOX10 in melanocytes. Through global analysis of SOX10-binding sites and epigenetic characteristics of chromatin states, we uncover an extensive catalog of SOX10 targets genome-wide. Our findings reveal that SOX10 predominantly engages 'open' chromatin regions and binds to distal regulatory elements, including novel and previously known melanocyte enhancers. Integrated chromatin occupancy and transcriptome analysis suggest a role for SOX10 in both transcriptional activation and repression to regulate functionally distinct classes of genes. We demonstrate that distinct epigenetic signatures and cis-regulatory sequence motifs predicted to bind putative co-regulatory transcription factors define SOX10-activated and SOX10-repressed target genes. Collectively, these findings uncover a central role of SOX10 as a global regulator of gene expression in the melanocyte lineage by targeting diverse regulatory pathways.
Published by Oxford University Press 2015. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.