Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Mar 10, 2020 117 (10) 5453-5462
Vol. 117, Issue 10, Medline Page 5453-5462
Alterations in chromatin at antigen receptor loci define lineage progression during B lymphopoiesis.
Developing lymphocytes diversify their antigen receptor (AgR) loci by variable (diversity) joining (V[D]J) recombination. Here, using the micrococcal nuclease (MNase)-based chromatin accessibility (MACC) assay with low-cell count input, we profile both small-scale (kilobase) and large-scale (megabase) changes in chromatin accessibility and nucleosome occupancy in primary cells during lymphoid development, tracking the changes as different AgR loci become primed for recombination. The three distinct chromatin structures identified in this work define unique features of immunoglobulin H (IgH), Igκ, and T cell receptor-α (TCRα) loci during B lymphopoiesis. In particular, we find locus-specific temporal changes in accessibility both across megabase-long AgR loci and locally at the recombination signal sequences (RSSs). These changes seem to be regulated independently and can occur prior to lineage commitment. Large-scale changes in chromatin accessibility occur without significant change in nucleosome density and represent key features of AgR loci not previously described. We further identify local dynamic repositioning of individual RSS-associated nucleosomes at IgH and Igκ loci while they become primed for recombination during B cell commitment. These changes in chromatin at AgR loci are regulated in a locus-, lineage-, and stage-specific manner during B lymphopoiesis, serving either to facilitate or to impose a barrier to V(D)J recombination. We suggest that local and global changes in chromatin openness in concert with nucleosome occupancy and placement of histone modifications facilitate the temporal order of AgR recombination. Our data have implications for the organizing principles that govern assembly of these large loci as well as for mechanisms that might contribute to aberrant V(D)J recombination and the development of lymphoid tumors.