The transcription factor zinc finger E-box binding protein 2 (ZEB2) controls embryonic and adult cell fate decisions and cellular maturation in many stem/progenitor cell types. Defects in these processes in specific cell types underlie several aspects of Mowat-Wilson syndrome (MOWS), which is caused by ZEB2 haplo-insufficiency. Human ZEB2, like mouse Zeb2, is located on chromosome 2 downstream of a ±3.5 Mb-long gene-desert, lacking any protein-coding gene. Using temporal targeted chromatin capture (T2C), we show major chromatin structural changes based on mapping in-cis proximities between the ZEB2 promoter and this gene desert during neural differentiation of human-induced pluripotent stem cells, including at early neuroprogenitor cell (NPC)/rosette state, where ZEB2 mRNA levels increase significantly. Combining T2C with histone-3 acetylation mapping, we identified three novel candidate enhancers about 500 kb upstream of the ZEB2 transcription start site. Functional luciferase-based assays in heterologous cells and NPCs reveal co-operation between these three enhancers. This study is the first to document in-cis Regulatory Elements located in ZEB2's gene desert. The results further show the usability of T2C for future studies of ZEB2 REs in differentiation and maturation of multiple cell types and the molecular characterization of newly identified MOWS patients that lack mutations in ZEB2 protein-coding exons.,
Human Molecular Genetics
Biophysical Genomics, Department Cell Biology & Genetics

Birkhoff, J.C. (Judith C.), Brouwer, R.W.W, Kolovos, P, Korporaal, A.L. (Anne L.), Bermejo-Santos, A. (Ana), Boltsis, I. (Ilias), … Conidi, A. (2020). Targeted chromatin conformation analysis identifies novel distal neural enhancers of ZEB2 in pluripotent stem cell differentiation. Human Molecular Genetics, 29(15), 2535–2550. doi:10.1093/hmg/ddaa141