SMCHD1 has separable roles in chromatin architecture and gene silencing that could be targeted in disease

More about Open Access at the Crick


The interplay between 3D chromatin architecture and gene silencing is incompletely understood. Here, we report a novel point mutation in the non-canonical SMC protein SMCHD1 that enhances its silencing capacity at endogenous developmental targets. Moreover, it also results in enhanced silencing at the facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy associated macrosatellite-array, D4Z4, resulting in enhanced repression of DUX4 encoded by this repeat. Heightened SMCHD1 silencing perturbs developmental Hox gene activation, causing a homeotic transformation in mice. Paradoxically, the mutant SMCHD1 appears to enhance insulation against other epigenetic regulators, including PRC2 and CTCF, while depleting long range chromatin interactions akin to what is observed in the absence of SMCHD1. These data suggest that SMCHD1's role in long range chromatin interactions is not directly linked to gene silencing or insulating the chromatin, refining the model for how the different levels of SMCHD1-mediated chromatin regulation interact to bring about gene silencing in normal development and disease.

Journal details

Volume 14
Issue number 1
Pages 5466
Available online
Publication date


Related topics

Crick labs/facilities

Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author