Published in

MDPI, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 8(24), p. 7283, 2023

DOI: 10.3390/ijms24087283



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HMGXB4 Targets Sleeping Beauty Transposition to Germinal Stem Cells

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Transposons are parasitic genetic elements that frequently hijack vital cellular processes of their host. HMGXB4 is a known Wnt signaling-regulating HMG-box protein, previously identified as a host-encoded factor of Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposition. Here, we show that HMGXB4 is predominantly maternally expressed, and marks both germinal progenitor and somatic stem cells. SB piggybacks HMGXB4 to activate transposase expression and target transposition to germinal stem cells, thereby potentiating heritable transposon insertions. The HMGXB4 promoter is located within an active chromatin domain, offering multiple looping possibilities with neighboring genomic regions. HMGXB4 is activated by ERK2/MAPK1, ELK1 transcription factors, coordinating pluripotency and self-renewal pathways, but suppressed by the KRAB-ZNF/TRIM28 epigenetic repression machinery, also known to regulate transposable elements. At the post-translational level, SUMOylation regulates HMGXB4, which modulates binding affinity to its protein interaction partners and controls its transcriptional activator function via nucleolar compartmentalization. When expressed, HMGXB4 can participate in nuclear-remodeling protein complexes and transactivate target gene expression in vertebrates. Our study highlights HMGXB4 as an evolutionarily conserved host-encoded factor that assists Tc1/Mariner transposons to target the germline, which was necessary for their fixation and may explain their abundance in vertebrate genomes.