KMT2B and Neuronal Transdifferentiation: Bridging Basic Chromatin Mechanisms to Disease Actionability
The role of bona fide epigenetic regulators in the process of neuronal transdifferentiation was until recently largely uncharacterized, despite their key role in the physiological processes of neural fate acquisition and maintenance. In this commentary, we describe the main findings of our recent paper “KMT2B is selectively required for neuronal transdifferentiation, and its loss exposes dystonia candidate genes,” where we investigated the role of this histone H3K4 methyltransferase during mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) to induced neuronal cells (iNs) direct conversion. Indeed, Kmt2b -/- MEFs, transduced with three neuronal-specific transcription factors (TFs), Brn2, Ascl1, and Myt1l, show lower transdifferentiation efficiency, defective iN maturation, and augmented alternative cell fates acquisition, with respect to controls. Here, we went beyond the data, hypothesizing how KMT2B executes its fundamental role. In particular, we supposed that MYT1L, which has been proven to be fundamental for iN maturation and the switch-off of alternative cell fates, directly or indirectly needs KMT2B. Indeed, KMT2B could be important both to make MYT1L-target genes accessible, because MYT1L is not a pioneer TF and preferentially binds to open chromatin, and to activate MYT1L-downstream genes.