ATRX-mediated chromatin association of histone variant macroH2A1 regulates α-globin expression

Kajan Ratnakumar, Luis F. Duarte, Gary LeRoy, Dan Hasson, Daniel Smeets, Chiara Vardabasso, Clemens Bönisch, Tianying Zeng, Bin Xiang, David Y. Zhang, Haitao Li, Xiaowo Wang, Sandra B. Hake, Lothar Schermelleh, Benjamin A. Garcia, Emily Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The histone variant macroH2A generally associates with transcriptionally inert chromatin; however, the factors that regulate its chromatin incorporation remain elusive. Here, we identify the SWI/SNF helicase ATRX (α-thalassemia/ MR, X-linked) as a novel macroH2A-interacting protein. Unlike its role in assisting H3.3 chromatin deposition, ATRX acts as a negative regulator of macroH2A's chromatin association. In human erythroleukemic cells deficient for ATRX, macroH2A accumulates at the HBA gene cluster on the subtelomere of chromosome 16, coinciding with the loss of α-globin expression. Collectively, our results implicate deregulation of macroH2A's distribution as a contributing factor to the α-thalassemia phenotype of ATRX syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-438
Number of pages6
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • ATRX
  • Chromatin remodeling
  • Histone chaperone
  • Histone variant
  • MacroH2A
  • α-globin


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