Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Gordon D. Ginder


The MBD2-NuRD co-repressor complex is an epigenetic regulator of the developmental silencing of embryonic and fetal β-type globin genes in adult erythroid cells as well as aberrant methylation-dependent silencing of tumor suppressor genes in neoplastic diseases. Biochemical characterization of the MBD2-NuRD complex in chicken erythroid cells identified RbAp46/48, HDAC1/2, MTA1/2/3, p66α/β, Mi2α/β and MBD2 to comprise this multi-protein complex.

In the work presented in Chapter 2, we have pursued biophysical and molecular studies to describe a previously uncharacterized domain of human MBD2 (MBD2IDR). Biophysical analyses show that MBD2IDR is an intrinsically disordered region (IDR). Despite this inherent disorder, MBD2IDR increases the overall binding affinity of MBD2 for methylated DNA. MBD2IDR also recruits the histone deacetylase core components (RbAp48, HDAC2 and MTA2) of NuRD through a critical area of contact requiring two contiguous amino acid residues, Arg286 and Leu287. Mutation of these critical residues abrogates interaction of MBD2 with the histone deacetylase core and impairs the ability of MBD2 to repress the methylated tumor suppressor gene Prostasin in MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells. These findings expand our knowledge of the multi-dimensional interactions of the MBD2-NuRD complex that govern its function.

In Chapter 3, we have discussed a novel mechanism for MBD2-mediated silencing of the fetal γ-globin gene. Through microarray expression analyses in adult erythroid cells of MBD2-/- mice, we identified ZBTB32 and miR-210 as downstream targets of MBD2. Over-expression of ZBTB32 and miR-210 in adult erythroid cells causes increased expression of the silenced fetal γ-globin gene. Thus, our results indicate that MBD2 may regulate γ-globin gene expression indirectly though ZBTB32 and miR-210 in adult erythroid cells.


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