Dynamic BAF chromatin remodeling complex subunit inclusion promotes temporally distinct gene expression programs in cardiogenesis

Development. 2019 Jul 5;146(19):dev174086. doi: 10.1242/dev.174086.


Chromatin remodeling complexes instruct cellular differentiation and lineage specific transcription. The BRG1/BRM-associated factor (BAF) complexes are important for several aspects of differentiation. We show that the catalytic subunit gene Brg1 has a specific role in cardiac precursors (CPs) to initiate cardiac gene expression programs and repress non-cardiac expression. Using immunopurification with mass spectrometry, we have determined the dynamic composition of BAF complexes during mammalian cardiac differentiation, identifying several cell-type specific subunits. We focused on the CP- and cardiomyocyte (CM)-enriched subunits BAF60c (SMARCD3) and BAF170 (SMARCC2). Baf60c and Baf170 co-regulate gene expression with Brg1 in CPs, and in CMs their loss results in broadly deregulated cardiac gene expression. BRG1, BAF60c and BAF170 modulate chromatin accessibility, to promote accessibility at activated genes while closing chromatin at repressed genes. BAF60c and BAF170 are required for proper BAF complex composition, and BAF170 loss leads to retention of BRG1 at CP-specific sites. Thus, dynamic interdependent BAF complex subunit assembly modulates chromatin states and thereby participates in directing temporal gene expression programs in cardiogenesis.

Keywords: Chromatin; Differentiation; Gene regulation; Heart.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genome
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Mice
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Organogenesis / genetics*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Subunits
  • Transcription Factors
  • Smarca4 protein, mouse
  • DNA Helicases