Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Cell Death and Disease








During neural development, epigenetic modulation of chromatin acetylation is part of a dynamic, sequential and critical process to steer the fate of multipotent neural progenitors toward a specific lineage. Pan-HDAC inhibitors (HDCis) trigger neuronal differentiation by generating an "acetylation" signature and promoting the expression of neurogenic bHLH transcription factors. Our studies and others have revealed a link between neuronal differentiation and increase of mitochondrial mass. However, the neuronal regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis has remained largely unexplored. Here, we show that the HDACi, sodium butyrate (NaBt), promotes mitochondrial biogenesis via the NRF-1/Tfam axis in embryonic hippocampal progenitor cells and neuroprogenitor-like PC12-NeuroD6 cells, thereby enhancing their neuronal differentiation competency. Increased mitochondrial DNA replication by several pan-HDACis indicates a common mechanism by which they regulate mitochondrial biogenesis. NaBt also induces coordinates mitochondrial ultrastructural changes and enhanced OXPHOS metabolism, thereby increasing key mitochondrial bioenergetics parameters in neural progenitor cells. NaBt also endows the neuronal cells with increased mitochondrial spare capacity to confer resistance to oxidative stress associated with neuronal differentiation. We demonstrate that mitochondrial biogenesis is under HDAC-mediated epigenetic regulation, the timing of which is consistent with its integrative role during neuronal differentiation. Thus, our findings add a new facet to our mechanistic understanding of how pan-HDACis induce differentiation of neuronal progenitor cells. Our results reveal the concept that epigenetic modulation of the mitochondrial pool prior to neurotrophic signaling dictates the efficiency of initiation of neuronal differentiation during the transition from progenitor to differentiating neuronal cells. The histone acetyltransferase CREB-binding protein plays a key role in regulating the mitochondrial biomass. By ChIP-seq analysis, we show that NaBt confers an H3K27ac epigenetic signature in several interconnected nodes of nuclear genes vital for neuronal differentiation and mitochondrial reprogramming. Collectively, our study reports a novel developmental epigenetic layer that couples mitochondrial biogenesis to neuronal differentiation.


Reproduced with permission of Nature Journals. Cell Death and Disease

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access




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