HNF4A guides the MLL4 complex to establish and maintain H3K4me1 at gene regulatory elements

Commun Biol. 2024 Jan 31;7(1):144. doi: 10.1038/s42003-024-05835-0.


Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4A (HNF4A/NR2a1), a transcriptional regulator of hepatocyte identity, controls genes that are crucial for liver functions, primarily through binding to enhancers. In mammalian cells, active and primed enhancers are marked by monomethylation of histone 3 (H3) at lysine 4 (K4) (H3K4me1) in a cell type-specific manner. How this modification is established and maintained at enhancers in connection with transcription factors (TFs) remains unknown. Using analysis of genome-wide histone modifications, TF binding, chromatin accessibility and gene expression, we show that HNF4A is essential for an active chromatin state. Using HNF4A loss and gain of function experiments in vivo and in cell lines in vitro, we show that HNF4A affects H3K4me1, H3K27ac and chromatin accessibility, highlighting its contribution to the establishment and maintenance of a transcriptionally permissive epigenetic state. Mechanistically, HNF4A interacts with the mixed-lineage leukaemia 4 (MLL4) complex facilitating recruitment to HNF4A-bound regions. Our findings indicate that HNF4A enriches H3K4me1, H3K27ac and establishes chromatin opening at transcriptional regulatory regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic*
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Leukemia*
  • Mammals / genetics


  • Histones
  • Chromatin
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase