RNA polymerase II pausing regulates chromatin organization in erythrocytes.

Penagos-Puig A; Claudio-Galeana S; Stephenson-Gussinye A; Jacome-Lopez K; Aguilar-Lomas A; Perez-Molina R; Furlan-Magaril M (2023). RNA polymerase II pausing regulates chromatin organization in erythrocytes. Nat Struct Mol Biol


Chicken erythrocytes are nucleated cells often considered to be transcriptionally inactive, although the epigenetic changes and chromatin remodeling that would mediate transcriptional repression and the extent of gene silencing during avian terminal erythroid differentiation are not fully understood. Here, we characterize the changes in gene expression, chromatin accessibility, genome organization and chromatin nuclear disposition during the terminal stages of erythropoiesis in chicken and uncover complex chromatin reorganization at different genomic scales. We observe a robust decrease in transcription in erythrocytes, but a set of genes maintains their expression, including genes involved in RNA polymerase II (Pol II) promoter-proximal pausing. Erythrocytes exhibit a reoriented nuclear architecture, with accessible chromatin positioned towards the nuclear periphery together with the paused RNA Pol II. In erythrocytes, chromatin domains are partially lost genome-wide, except at minidomains retained around paused promoters. Our results suggest that promoter-proximal pausing of RNA Pol II contributes to the transcriptional regulation of the erythroid genome and highlight the role of RNA polymerase in the maintenance of local chromatin organization.

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