An emerging concept in development is that transcriptional poising presets patterns of gene expression in a manner that reflects a cell's developmental potential. However, it is not known how certain loci are specified in the embryo to establish poised chromatin architecture as the developmental program unfolds. We find that, in the context of transcriptional quiescence prior to the midblastula transition in Xenopus, dorsal specification by the Wnt/β-catenin pathway is temporally uncoupled from the onset of dorsal target gene expression, and that β-catenin establishes poised chromatin architecture at target promoters. β-catenin recruits the arginine methyltransferase Prmt2 to target promoters, thereby establishing asymmetrically dimethylated H3 arginine 8 (R8). Recruitment of Prmt2 to β-catenin target genes is necessary and sufficient to establish the dorsal developmental program, indicating that Prmt2-mediated histone H3(R8) methylation plays a critical role downstream of β-catenin in establishing poised chromatin architecture and marking key organizer genes for later expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology