Heat shock transcription factors demonstrate a distinct mode of interaction with mitotic chromosomes

Nucleic Acids Res. 2023 Apr 28;gkad304. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkad304. Online ahead of print.


A large number of transcription factors have been shown to bind and interact with mitotic chromosomes, which may promote the efficient reactivation of transcriptional programs following cell division. Although the DNA-binding domain (DBD) contributes strongly to TF behavior, the mitotic behaviors of TFs from the same DBD family may vary. To define the mechanisms governing TF behavior during mitosis in mouse embryonic stem cells, we examined two related TFs: Heat Shock Factor 1 and 2 (HSF1 and HSF2). We found that HSF2 maintains site-specific binding genome-wide during mitosis, whereas HSF1 binding is somewhat decreased. Surprisingly, live-cell imaging shows that both factors appear excluded from mitotic chromosomes to the same degree, and are similarly more dynamic in mitosis than in interphase. Exclusion from mitotic DNA is not due to extrinsic factors like nuclear import and export mechanisms. Rather, we found that the HSF DBDs can coat mitotic chromosomes, and that HSF2 DBD is able to establish site-specific binding. These data further confirm that site-specific binding and chromosome coating are independent properties, and that for some TFs, mitotic behavior is largely determined by the non-DBD regions.