Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 28;14(1):472. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36114-x
Specialized chromatin-binding proteins are required for DNA-based processes during development. We recently established PWWP2A as a direct histone variant H2A.Z interactor involved in mitosis and craniofacial development. Here, we identify the H2A.Z/PWWP2A-associated protein HMG20A as part of several chromatin-modifying complexes, including NuRD, and show that it localizes to distinct genomic regulatory regions. Hmg20a depletion causes severe head and heart developmental defects in Xenopus laevis. Our data indicate that craniofacial malformations are caused by defects in neural crest cell (NCC) migration and cartilage formation. These developmental failures are phenocopied in Hmg20a-depleted mESCs, which show inefficient differentiation into NCCs and cardiomyocytes (CM). Consequently, loss of HMG20A, which marks open promoters and enhancers, results in chromatin accessibility changes and a striking deregulation of transcription programs involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and differentiation processes. Collectively, our findings implicate HMG20A as part of the H2A.Z/PWWP2A/NuRD-axis and reveal it as a key modulator of intricate developmental transcription programs that guide the differentiation of NCCs and CMs.
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