My lab previously identified H3K4 methyltransferases MLL3 and MLL4 (Cho YW, JBC 2007) and H3K27 demethylases UTX and JMJD3 (Hong S, PNAS 2007). Using a nuclear protein PTIP as the bait, we isolated from cell nuclei a protein complex that contains H3K4 methyltransferases MLL3/MLL4, H3K27 demethylase UTX, PTIP and a novel protein PA1 (Cho YW, JBC 2007). Further, we show that PTIP is required for PPARgamma and C/EBPalpha expression and adipogenesis (Cho, YW, Cell Metab 2009). To understand the physiological roles of MLL3/MLL4 and associated factors, we have knocked out MLL3, MLL4, UTX and PA1 in mice. Because of their embryonic lethality, we have generated conditional knockout (KO) of MLL4, UTX and PA1. We also generated enzyme-dead UTX knockin mice (Faralli H, JCI 2016). We found that UTX protein, but not its H3K27 demethylase activity, is required for embryonic stem cell differentiation, establishment of the mammary luminal cell lineage, and mouse development (Wang C, PNAS 2012; Yoo KH, MCB 2016; Faralli H, JCI 2016). Our data suggest that UTX functions through MLL3/MLL4 to regulate enhancer activation during cell differentiation and animal development. Interestingly, UTX demethylase activity is required for satellite cell-mediated muscle regeneration (Faralli H, JCI 2016). Using adipogenesis and myogenesis and embryonic stem cell differentiation as model systems, we found that MLL4 exhibits cell-type- and differentiation-stage-specific genomic binding and is predominantly localized on enhancers. MLL3 and MLL4 are redundant and are essential for enhancer activation, cell-type-specific gene expression and cell differentiation (Lee J, eLife, 2013; Wang C, unpublished). MLL4 is also required for heart development (Ang SY, Development 2016). MLL3/MLL4 and UTX are frequently mutated in multiple types of cancers and developmental diseases. Our findings suggest that mutations in MLL3/MLL4 and UTX would lead to defects in enhancer activation, cell-type-specific gene expression and cell differentiation. Such a mechanism may contribute to the pathogenesis of these cancers and developmental diseases.

Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
U.S. National Inst Diabetes/Digst/Kidney
Zip Code
Seok, Sunmi; Kim, Young-Chae; Byun, Sangwon et al. (2018) Fasting-induced JMJD3 histone demethylase epigenetically activates mitochondrial fatty acid ?-oxidation. J Clin Invest 128:3144-3159
Local, Andrea; Huang, Hui; Albuquerque, Claudio P et al. (2018) Identification of H3K4me1-associated proteins at mammalian enhancers. Nat Genet 50:73-82
Wu, Qibiao; Tian, Yahui; Zhang, Jian et al. (2018) In vivo CRISPR screening unveils histone demethylase UTX as an important epigenetic regulator in lung tumorigenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:E3978-E3986
Yan, Jian; Chen, Shi-An A; Local, Andrea et al. (2018) Histone H3 lysine 4 monomethylation modulates long-range chromatin interactions at enhancers. Cell Res 28:204-220
Shpargel, Karl B; Starmer, Joshua; Wang, Chaochen et al. (2017) UTX-guided neural crest function underlies craniofacial features of Kabuki syndrome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E9046-E9055
Lai, Binbin; Lee, Ji-Eun; Jang, Younghoon et al. (2017) MLL3/MLL4 are required for CBP/p300 binding on enhancers and super-enhancer formation in brown adipogenesis. Nucleic Acids Res 45:6388-6403
Froimchuk, Eugene; Jang, Younghoon; Ge, Kai (2017) Histone H3 lysine 4 methyltransferase KMT2D. Gene 627:337-342
Lee, Ji-Eun; Park, Young-Kwon; Park, Sarah et al. (2017) Brd4 binds to active enhancers to control cell identity gene induction in adipogenesis and myogenesis. Nat Commun 8:2217
Northrup, Daniel; Yagi, Ryoji; Cui, Kairong et al. (2017) Histone demethylases UTX and JMJD3 are required for NKT cell development in mice. Cell Biosci 7:25
Zhang, Zheng; Christin, John R; Wang, Chunhui et al. (2016) Mammary-Stem-Cell-Based Somatic Mouse Models Reveal Breast Cancer Drivers Causing Cell Fate Dysregulation. Cell Rep 16:3146-3156

Showing the most recent 10 out of 43 publications