Published on Fri Jul 30 2021

Identification and functional characterization of transcriptional activators in human cells

Alerasool, N., Lin, Z.-Y., Gingras, A.-C., Taipale, M.

Transcription is orchestrated by thousands of transcription factors and chromatin-associated proteins. How these are causally connected to transcriptional activation or repression is poorly understood. We conduct an unbiased proteome-scale screen to systematically uncover human proteins that activate transcription in a natural chromatin context.

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Abstract

Transcription is orchestrated by thousands of transcription factors and chromatin-associated proteins, but how these are causally connected to transcriptional activation or repression is poorly understood. Here, we conduct an unbiased proteome-scale screen to systematically uncover human proteins that activate transcription in a natural chromatin context. We also identify potent transactivation domains among the hits. By combining interaction proteomics and chemical inhibitors, we delineate the preference of both known and novel transcriptional activators for specific co-activators, highlighting how even closely related TFs can function via distinct co-factors. Finally, we show that many novel activators are partners in fusion events in tumors and functionally characterize a myofibroma-associated fusion between SRF and C3orf62, a potent activator. SRF-C3orf62 activates transcription in a CBP/p300-dependent manner and promotes proliferative and myogenic transcriptional programs. Our work provides a functional catalogue of potent transactivators in the human proteome and a platform for discovering transcriptional regulators at genome scale.