Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Joseph W. Landry, Ph.D


The nucleosome remodeling factor (NURF) is an evolutionary conserved ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling factor. It was first isolated from Drosophila as a complex with enzymatic activity that once recruited to nucleosome, it slides the nucleosome to provide accessibility for transcription factors. Since then, numerous works from animal models and cell lines show the role of NURF as a regulator of gene expression. NURF interacts with H3K4me3 and sequence specific transcription factors that recruit the complex to promoter regions. Whether this is the only mechanism by which NURF regulates gene expression is not known. However, other ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes are known to regulate gene expression independent from transcription initiation. In order to explore the role of NURF in regulating gene expression, we utilized two genome wide approaches to map NURF binding and NURF dependent changes in chromatin structure using ChIP-Seq and FAIRE-Seq, respectively. From these analyses, we discovered that NURF broadly localizes in the genome with preferences to gene bodies and 3’ends of genes. Also, we found that NURF maintains open chromatin regions at upstream, intron and downstream of genes. These novel findings shed light on new roles for NURF complex within genes, in addition to its classical role at promoter regions. Furthermore, we discovered the function of a previously uncharacterized domain in the NURF specific subunit BPTF. We show that the N-terminal the plant homeodomain (PHD) of BPTF directly interacts with THOC4, a protein associated with RNA-pol 2. Also, we show using ChIP analyses that this interaction recruits BPTF to gene bodies. Next, we investigated functional consequences for NURF recruitment to gene bodies using Cyclin D1 (Ccnd1) gene as a model. These analyses revealed that NURF is required for normal mRNA processing and loss of NURF induces intron retention, which results in unstable transcripts. Finally, we show that the defect in mRNA processing is not specific to the Ccnd1 gene, as we observe similar defects in four other BPTF dependent genes. Together, our work uncovered new role of mammalian NURF complex in regulating gene expression through mRNA processing.


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