Gene programs that control differentiation are regulated through the interplay between DNA, RNA, and protein. Cooperation among these fundamental cellular components can occur through highly structured interactions connecting domains formed by specific sequences of nucleotides, ribonucleotides, and/or amino acids and also through the assembly of biomolecular condensates. Here, we show that endoderm differentiation is regulated through the interaction of the long noncoding (lnc) RNA DIGIT and the bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) domain family protein BRD3. BRD3 forms phase-separated condensates that contain DIGIT, occupies enhancers of endoderm transcription factors, and is required for endoderm differentiation. Purified BRD3 binds to acetylated histone H3 lysine 18 (H3K18ac) in vitro and occupies regions of the genome enriched in H3K18ac during endoderm differentiation, including the key transcription factors that regulate endoderm differentiation. DIGIT is also enriched in regions of H3K18ac, and depletion of DIGIT results in decreased recruitment of BRD3 to these regions. Our findings support a model where cooperation between DIGIT and BRD3 at regions of H3K18ac regulates the transcription factors that drive endoderm differentiation and suggest a broader role for protein-lncRNA phase-separated condensates as regulators of transcription in development.
The abundance of Myc protein must be exquisitely controlled to avoid growth abnormalities caused by too much or too little Myc. An intriguing mode of regulation exists in which Myc protein itself leads to reduction in its abundance. We show here that dMyc binds to the miR-308 locus and increases its expression. Using our gain-of-function approach, we show that an increase in miR-308 causes a destabilization of dMyc mRNA and reduced dMyc protein levels. In vivo knockdown of miR-308 confirmed the regulation of dMyc levels in embryos. This regulatory loop is crucial for maintaining appropriate dMyc levels and normal development. Perturbation of the loop, either by elevated miR-308 or elevated dMyc, caused lethality. Combining elevated levels of both, therefore restoring balance between miR-308 and dMyc levels, resulted in lower apoptotic activity and suppression of lethality. These results reveal a sensitive feedback mechanism that is crucial to prevent the pathologies caused by abnormal levels of dMyc.
Myc is an important protein at the center of multiple pathways required for growth and proliferation in animals. The absence of Myc is lethal in flies and mice, and its over-production is a potent inducer of over-proliferation and cancer. Myc protein is localized to the nucleus where it executes its many functions, however the specific sub-nuclear localization of Myc has rarely been reported. The work we describe here began with an observation of unexpected, punctate spots of Myc protein in certain regions of Drosophila embryos. We investigated the identity of these puncta and demonstrate that Myc is co-localized with coilin, a marker for sub-nuclear organelles known as Cajal Bodies (CBs), in embryos, larvae and ovaries. Using antibodies specific for U7 snRNP component Lsm11, we show that the majority of Myc and coilin co-localization occurs in Histone Locus Bodies (HLBs), the sites of histone mRNA transcription and processing. Furthermore, Myc localizes to HLBs only during replication in mitotic and endocycling cells, suggesting that its role there relates to replication-dependent canonical histone gene transcription. These results provide evidence that sub-nuclear localization of Myc is cell-cycle dependent and potentially important for histone mRNA production and processing.