An epigenetic switch induced by Shh signalling regulates gene activation during development and medulloblastoma growth

Xuanming Shi, Zilai Zhang, Xiaoming Zhan, Mou Cao, Takashi Satoh, Shizuo Akira, Karl Shpargel, Terry Magnuson, Qingtian Li, Rongfu Wang, Chaochen Wang, Kai Ge, Jiang Wu

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46 Scopus citations


The Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signalling pathway plays important roles during development and in cancer. Here we report a Shh-induced epigenetic switch that cooperates with Gli to control transcription outcomes. Before induction, poised Shh target genes are marked by a bivalent chromatin domain containing a repressive histone H3K27me3 mark and an active H3K4me3 mark. Shh activation induces a local switch of epigenetic cofactors from the H3K27 methyltransferase polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) to an H3K27me3 demethylase Jmjd3/Kdm6b-centred coactivator complex. We also find that non-enzymatic activities of Jmjd3 are important and that Jmjd3 recruits the Set1/MLL H3K4 methyltransferase complexes in a Shh-dependent manner to resolve the bivalent domain. In vivo, changes of the bivalent domain accompanied Shh-activated cerebellar progenitor proliferation. Overall, our results reveal a regulatory mechanism that underlies the activation of Shh target genes and provides insight into the causes of various diseases and cancers exhibiting altered Shh signalling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6425
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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