Pontin Functions as A Transcriptional Co-activator for Retinoic Acid-induced HOX Gene Expression

Dan Tang, Zhao Zhang, Emily Zboril, Michael D. Wetzel, Xinping Xu, Wei Zhang, Lizhen Chen, Zhijie Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pontin is a AAA+ ATPase protein that has functions in various biological contexts including gene transcription regulation, chromatin remodeling, DNA damage sensing and repair, as well as assembly of protein and ribonucleoprotein complexes. Pontin is known to regulate the transcription of several important signaling pathways, including Wnt signaling. However, its role in early embryonic signaling regulation remains unclear. Retinoic acid (RA) signaling plays a central role in vertebrate development. Using an in vivo biotin tagging technology, we mapped the genome-wide binding pattern of Pontin before and after RA-induced differentiation in the pluripotent embryo carcinoma cell line NTERA-2. Biotin ChIP-seq revealed significant changes in genome-wide Pontin binding sites upon RA stimulation. We also identified a substantial amount of overlapping binding peaks between Pontin and RARα, especially on all of the HOX gene loci (A-D clusters). Pontin knockdown experiments showed that its chromatin binding at the HOX gene clusters is required for RA-induced HOX gene expression. Furthermore, we performed Global Run-On sequencing (GRO-seq) to map de novo transcripts genome-wide and found that Pontin knockdown significantly diminished nascent HOX gene transcripts, indicating that Pontin regulates HOX gene expression at the transcriptional level. Finally, proteomic analysis demonstrated that Pontin associates with chromatin organization/remodeling complexes and various other functional complexes. Altogether, we have demonstrated that Pontin is a critical transcriptional co-activator for RA-induced HOX gene activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number166928
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 9 2021


  • HOX gene
  • embryonic development
  • pontin
  • retinoic acid
  • transcriptional co-activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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