The Chd4 helicase regulates chromatin accessibility and gene expression critical for β-cell function in vivo
The transcriptional activity of Pdx1 is modulated by a diverse array of coregulatory factors that govern chromatin accessibility, histone modifications, and nucleosome distribution. We previously identified the Chd4 subunit of the Nucleosome Remodeling and Deacetylase complex as a Pdx1-interacting factor. To identify how loss of Chd4 impacts glucose homeostasis and gene expression programs in β-cells in vivo, we generated an inducible-β-cell-specific Chd4 knockout mouse model. Removal of Chd4 from mature islet β-cells rendered mutant animals glucose intolerant, in part due to defects in insulin secretion. We observed an increased ratio of immature:mature insulin granules in Chd4-deficient β-cells that correlated with elevated levels of proinsulin both within isolated islets and from plasma following glucose stimulation in vivo. RNA- and ATAC-Sequencing showed that lineage-labeled Chd4-deficient β-cells have alterations in chromatin accessibility and altered expression of genes critical for β-cell function, including MafA, Slc2a2, Chga, and Chgb. Knockdown of CHD4 from a human β-cell line revealed similar defects in insulin secretion and alterations in several β-cell-enriched gene targets. These results illustrate how critical Chd4 activities are in controlling genes essential for maintaining β-cell function.