Transcription factors positively and/or negatively impact gene expression by recruiting coregulatory factors, which interact through protein-protein binding. Here we demonstrate that mouse pancreas size and islet β cell function are controlled by the ATP-dependent Swi/Snf chromatin remodeling coregulatory complex that physically associates with Pdx1, a diabetes-linked transcription factor essential to pancreatic morphogenesis and adult islet-cell function and maintenance. Early embryonic deletion of just the Swi/Snf Brg1 ATPase subunit reduced multipotent pancreatic progenitor cell proliferation and resulted in pancreas hypoplasia. In contrast, removal of both Swi/Snf ATPase subunits, Brg1 and Brm, was necessary to compromise adult islet β cell activity, which included whole animal glucose intolerance, hyperglycemia and impaired insulin secretion. Notably, lineage-tracing analysis revealed Swi/Snf-deficient β cells lost the ability to produce the mRNAs for and other key metabolic genes without effecting the expression of many essential islet-enriched transcription factors. Swi/Snf was necessary for Pdx1 to bind to the gene enhancer, demonstrating the importance of this association in mediating chromatin accessibility. These results illustrate how fundamental the Pdx1:Swi/Snf coregulator complex is in the pancreas and we discuss how disrupting their association could influence Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes susceptibility.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.