CDK-Mediator and FBXL19 prime developmental genes for activation by promoting atypical regulatory interactions

Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Apr 6;48(6):2942-2955. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa064.


Appropriate developmental gene regulation relies on the capacity of gene promoters to integrate inputs from distal regulatory elements, yet how this is achieved remains poorly understood. In embryonic stem cells (ESCs), a subset of silent developmental gene promoters are primed for activation by FBXL19, a CpG island binding protein, through its capacity to recruit CDK-Mediator. How mechanistically these proteins function together to prime genes for activation during differentiation is unknown. Here we discover that in mouse ESCs FBXL19 and CDK-Mediator support long-range interactions between silent gene promoters that rely on FBXL19 for their induction during differentiation and gene regulatory elements. During gene induction, these distal regulatory elements behave in an atypical manner, in that the majority do not acquire histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation and no longer interact with their target gene promoter following gene activation. Despite these atypical features, we demonstrate by targeted deletions that these distal elements are required for appropriate gene induction during differentiation. Together these discoveries demonstrate that CpG-island associated gene promoters can prime genes for activation by communicating with atypical distal gene regulatory elements to achieve appropriate gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 8 / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • F-Box Proteins / genetics
  • F-Box Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Developmental*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Protein Binding


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • F-Box Proteins
  • FBXL19 protein, mouse
  • Histones
  • Cdk8 protein, mouse
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 8
  • Lysine