All Publications

  • Chemical Inhibitors of a Selective SWI/SNF Function Synergize with ATR Inhibition in Cancer Cell Killing. ACS chemical biology Chory, E. J., Kirkland, J. G., Chang, C. Y., D'Andrea, V. D., Gourisankar, S. n., Dykhuizen, E. C., Crabtree, G. R. 2020


    SWI/SNF (BAF) complexes are a diverse family of ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers produced by combinatorial assembly that are mutated in and thought to contribute to 20% of human cancers and a large number of neurologic diseases. The gene-activating functions of BAF complexes are essential for viability of many cell types, limiting the development of small molecule inhibitors. To circumvent the potential toxicity of SWI/SNF inhibition, we identified small molecules that inhibit the specific repressive function of these complexes but are relatively nontoxic and importantly synergize with ATR inhibitors in killing cancer cells. Our studies suggest an avenue for therapeutic enhancement of ATR/ATM inhibition and provide evidence for chemical synthetic lethality of BAF complexes as a therapeutic strategy in cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acschembio.0c00312

    View details for PubMedID 32369697

  • Dominant-negative SMARCA4 mutants alter the accessibility landscape of tissue-unrestricted enhancers. Nature structural & molecular biology Hodges, H. C., Stanton, B. Z., Cermakova, K. n., Chang, C. Y., Miller, E. L., Kirkland, J. G., Ku, W. L., Veverka, V. n., Zhao, K. n., Crabtree, G. R. 2018; 25 (1): 61–72


    Mutation of SMARCA4 (BRG1), the ATPase of BAF (mSWI/SNF) and PBAF complexes, contributes to a range of malignancies and neurologic disorders. Unfortunately, the effects of SMARCA4 missense mutations have remained uncertain. Here we show that SMARCA4 cancer missense mutations target conserved ATPase surfaces and disrupt the mechanochemical cycle of remodeling. We find that heterozygous expression of mutants alters the open chromatin landscape at thousands of sites across the genome. Loss of DNA accessibility does not directly overlap with Polycomb accumulation, but is enriched in 'A compartments' at active enhancers, which lose H3K27ac but not H3K4me1. Affected positions include hundreds of sites identified as superenhancers in many tissues. Dominant-negative mutation induces pro-oncogenic expression changes, including increased expression of Myc and its target genes. Together, our data suggest that disruption of enhancer accessibility represents a key source of altered function in disorders with SMARCA4 mutations in a wide variety of tissues.

    View details for PubMedID 29323272

  • TOP2 synergizes with BAF chromatin remodeling for both resolution and formation of facultative heterochromatin. Nature structural & molecular biology Miller, E. L., Hargreaves, D. C., Kadoch, C., Chang, C., Calarco, J. P., Hodges, C., Buenrostro, J. D., Cui, K., Greenleaf, W. J., Zhao, K., Crabtree, G. R. 2017


    The resolution and formation of facultative heterochromatin are essential for development, reprogramming, and oncogenesis. The mechanisms underlying these changes are poorly understood owing to the difficulty of studying heterochromatin dynamics and structure in vivo. We devised an in vivo approach to investigate these mechanisms and found that topoisomerase II (TOP2), but not TOP1, synergizes with BAF (mSWI/SNF) ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes genome-wide to resolve facultative heterochromatin to accessible chromatin independent of transcription. This indicates that changes in DNA topology that take place through (de-)catenation rather than the release of torsional stress through swiveling are necessary for heterochromatin resolution. TOP2 and BAF cooperate to recruit pluripotency factors, which explains some of the instructive roles of BAF complexes. Unexpectedly, we found that TOP2 also plays a role in the re-formation of facultative heterochromatin; this finding suggests that facultative heterochromatin and accessible chromatin exist at different states of catenation or other topologies, which might be critical to their structures.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nsmb.3384

    View details for PubMedID 28250416

  • Nfatc1 orchestrates aging in hair follicle stem cells PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Keyes, B. E., Segal, J. P., Heller, E., Lien, W., Chang, C., Guo, X., Oristian, D. S., Zheng, D., Fuchs, E. 2013; 110 (51): E4950-E4959


    Hair production is fueled by stem cells (SCs), which transition between cyclical bouts of rest and activity. Here, we explore why hair growth wanes with age. We show that aged hair follicle SCs (HFSCs) in mice exhibit enhanced resting and abbreviated growth phases and are delayed in response to tissue-regenerating cues. Aged HFSCs are poor at initiating proliferation and show diminished self-renewing capacity upon extensive use. Only modestly restored by parabiosis, these features are rooted in elevated cell-intrinsic sensitivity and local elevation in bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling. Transcriptional profiling presents differences consistent with defects in aged HFSC activation. Notably, BMP-/calcium-regulated, nuclear factor of activated T-cell c1 (NFATc1) in HFSCs becomes recalcitrant to its normal down-regulating cues, and NFATc1 ChIP-sequencing analyses reveal a marked enrichment of NFATc1 target genes within the age-related signature. Moreover, aged HFSCs display more youthful levels of hair regeneration when BMP and/or NFATc1 are inhibited. These results provide unique insights into how skin SCs age.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1320301110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328548600006

    View details for PubMedID 24282298

  • NFIB is a governor of epithelial-melanocyte stem cell behaviour in a shared niche NATURE Chang, C., Pasolli, H. A., Giannopoulou, E. G., Guasch, G., Gronostajski, R. M., Elemento, O., Fuchs, E. 2013; 495 (7439): 98-102


    Adult stem cells reside in specialized niches where they receive environmental cues to maintain tissue homeostasis. In mammals, the stem cell niche within hair follicles is home to epithelial hair follicle stem cells and melanocyte stem cells, which sustain cyclical bouts of hair regeneration and pigmentation. To generate pigmented hairs, synchrony is achieved such that upon initiation of a new hair cycle, stem cells of each type activate lineage commitment. Dissecting the inter-stem-cell crosstalk governing this intricate coordination has been difficult, because mutations affecting one lineage often affect the other. Here we identify transcription factor NFIB as an unanticipated coordinator of stem cell behaviour. Hair follicle stem-cell-specific conditional targeting of Nfib in mice uncouples stem cell synchrony. Remarkably, this happens not by perturbing hair cycle and follicle architecture, but rather by promoting melanocyte stem cell proliferation and differentiation. The early production of melanin is restricted to melanocyte stem cells at the niche base. Melanocyte stem cells more distant from the dermal papilla are unscathed, thereby preventing hair greying typical of melanocyte stem cell differentiation mutants. Furthermore, we pinpoint KIT-ligand as a dermal papilla signal promoting melanocyte stem cell differentiation. Additionally, through chromatin-immunoprecipitation with high-throughput-sequencing and transcriptional profiling, we identify endothelin 2 (Edn2) as an NFIB target aberrantly activated in NFIB-deficient hair follicle stem cells. Ectopically induced Edn2 recapitulates NFIB-deficient phenotypes in wild-type mice. Conversely, endothelin receptor antagonists and/or KIT blocking antibodies prevent precocious melanocyte stem cell differentiation in the NFIB-deficient niche. Our findings reveal how melanocyte and hair follicle stem cell behaviours maintain reliance upon cooperative factors within the niche, and how this can be uncoupled in injury, stress and disease states.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature11847

    View details for Web of Science ID 000316039800047

    View details for PubMedID 23389444

  • Sarm1, a negative regulator of innate immunity, interacts with syndecan-2 and regulates neuronal morphology JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Chen, C., Lin, C., Chang, C., Jiang, S., Hsueh, Y. 2011; 193 (4): 769-784


    Dendritic arborization is a critical neuronal differentiation process. Here, we demonstrate that syndecan-2 (Sdc2), a synaptic heparan sulfate proteoglycan that triggers dendritic filopodia and spine formation, regulates dendritic arborization in cultured hippocampal neurons. This process is controlled by sterile α and TIR motif-containing 1 protein (Sarm1), a negative regulator of Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) in innate immunity signaling. We show that Sarm1 interacts with and receives signal from Sdc2 and controls dendritic arborization through the MKK4-JNK pathway. In Sarm1 knockdown mice, dendritic arbors of neurons were less complex than those of wild-type littermates. In addition to acting downstream of Sdc2, Sarm1 is expressed earlier than Sdc2, which suggests that it has multiple roles in neuronal morphogenesis. Specifically, it is required for proper initiation and elongation of dendrites, axonal outgrowth, and neuronal polarization. These functions likely involve Sarm1-mediated regulation of microtubule stability, as Sarm1 influenced tubulin acetylation. This study thus reveals the molecular mechanism underlying the action of Sarm1 in neuronal morphogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.201008050

    View details for Web of Science ID 000290677500017

    View details for PubMedID 21555464

  • Atg19 mediates a dual interaction cargo sorting mechanism in selective autophagy MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL Chang, C., Huang, W. 2007; 18 (3): 919-929


    Autophagy is a catabolic membrane-trafficking mechanism conserved in all eukaryotic cells. In addition to the nonselective transport of bulk cytosol, autophagy is responsible for efficient delivery of the vacuolar enzyme Ape1 precursor (prApe1) in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, suggesting the presence of a prApe1 sorting machinery. Sequential interactions between Atg19-Atg11 and Atg19-Atg8 pairs are thought responsible for targeting prApe1 to the vesicle formation site, the preautophagosomal structure (PAS), and loading it into transport vesicles, respectively. However, the different patterns of prApe1 transport defect seen in the atg11Delta and atg19Delta strains seem to be incompatible with this model. Here we report that prApe1 could not be targeted to the PAS and failed to be delivered into the vacuole in atg8Delta atg11Delta double knockout cells regardless of the nutrient conditions. We postulate that Atg19 mediates a dual interaction prApe1-sorting mechanism through independent, instead of sequential, interactions with Atg11 and Atg8. In addition, to efficiently deliver prApe1 to the vacuole, a proper interaction between Atg11 and Atg9 is indispensable. We speculate that Atg11 may elicit a cargo-loading signal and induce Atg9 shuttling to a specific PAS site, where Atg9 relays the signal and recruits other Atg proteins to induce vesicle formation.

    View details for DOI 10.1091/mbc.E06-08-0683

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244761500022

    View details for PubMedID 17192412

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