SOX10-regulated promoter use defines isoform-specific gene expression in Schwann cells

BMC Genomics. 2020 Aug 8;21(1):549. doi: 10.1186/s12864-020-06963-7.


Background: Multicellular organisms adopt various strategies to tailor gene expression to cellular contexts including the employment of multiple promoters (and the associated transcription start sites (TSSs)) at a single locus that encodes distinct gene isoforms. Schwann cells-the myelinating cells of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)-exhibit a specialized gene expression profile directed by the transcription factor SOX10, which is essential for PNS myelination. SOX10 regulates promoter elements associated with unique TSSs and gene isoforms at several target loci, implicating SOX10-mediated, isoform-specific gene expression in Schwann cell function. Here, we report on genome-wide efforts to identify SOX10-regulated promoters and TSSs in Schwann cells to prioritize genes and isoforms for further study.

Results: We performed global TSS analyses and mined previously reported ChIP-seq datasets to assess the activity of SOX10-bound promoters in three models: (i) an adult mammalian nerve; (ii) differentiating primary Schwann cells, and (iii) cultured Schwann cells with ablated SOX10 function. We explored specific characteristics of SOX10-dependent TSSs, which provides confidence in defining them as SOX10 targets. Finally, we performed functional studies to validate our findings at four previously unreported SOX10 target loci: ARPC1A, CHN2, DDR1, and GAS7. These findings suggest roles for the associated SOX10-regulated gene products in PNS myelination.

Conclusions: In sum, we provide comprehensive computational and functional assessments of SOX10-regulated TSS use in Schwann cells. The data presented in this study will stimulate functional studies on the specific mRNA and protein isoforms that SOX10 regulates, which will improve our understanding of myelination in the peripheral nerve.

Keywords: Isoform; Myelination; Promoter; SOX10; Schwann cell.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • SOXE Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • SOXE Transcription Factors* / metabolism
  • Schwann Cells* / metabolism


  • Protein Isoforms
  • SOXE Transcription Factors