30 August 2021

A TALE/HOX code unlocks WNT signalling response towards paraxial mesoderm

Mariani, L., Guo, X., Menezes, N. A., Drozd, A. M., Çakal, S. D., Wang, Q., and Ferretti, E. (2021). A TALE/HOX code unlocks WNT signalling response towards paraxial mesodermNature Communications12(1), 5136. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25370-4


One fundamental yet unresolved question in biology remains how cells interpret the same signalling cues in a context-dependent manner resulting in lineage specification. A key step for decoding signalling cues is the establishment of a permissive chromatin environment at lineage-specific genes triggering transcriptional responses to inductive signals. For instance, bipotent neuromesodermal progenitors (NMPs) are equipped with a WNT-decoding module, which relies on TCFs/LEF activity to sustain both NMP expansion and paraxial mesoderm differentiation. However, how WNT signalling activates lineage specific genes in a temporal manner remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that paraxial mesoderm induction relies on the TALE/HOX combinatorial activity that simultaneously represses NMP genes and activates the differentiation program. We identify the BRACHYURY-TALE/HOX code that destabilizes the nucleosomes at WNT-responsive regions and establishes the permissive chromatin landscape for de novo recruitment of the WNT-effector LEF1, unlocking the WNT-mediated transcriptional program that drives NMPs towards the paraxial mesodermal fate.