The Drosophila BEAF insulator protein interacts with the polybromo subunit of the PBAP chromatin remodeling complex
The Drosophila Boundary Element-Associated Factor of 32 kDa (BEAF) binds in promoter regions of a few thousand mostly housekeeping genes. BEAF is implicated in both chromatin domain boundary activity and promoter function, although molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we show that BEAF physically interacts with the polybromo subunit (Pbro) of PBAP, a SWI/SNF-class chromatin remodeling complex. BEAF also shows genetic interactions with Pbro and other PBAP subunits. We examine the effect of this interaction on gene expression and chromatin structure using precision run-on sequencing and micrococcal nuclease sequencing after RNAi-mediated knockdown in cultured S2 cells. Our results are consistent with the interaction playing a subtle role in gene activation. Fewer than 5% of BEAF-associated genes were significantly affected after BEAF knockdown. Most were downregulated, accompanied by fill-in of the promoter nucleosome-depleted region and a slight upstream shift of the +1 nucleosome. Pbro knockdown caused downregulation of several hundred genes and showed a correlation with BEAF knockdown but a better correlation with promoter-proximal GAGA factor binding. Micrococcal nuclease sequencing supports that BEAF binds near housekeeping gene promoters while Pbro is more important at regulated genes. Yet there is a similar general but slight reduction of promoter-proximal pausing by RNA polymerase II and increase in nucleosome-depleted region nucleosome occupancy after knockdown of either protein. We discuss the possibility of redundant factors keeping BEAF-associated promoters active and masking the role of interactions between BEAF and the Pbro subunit of PBAP in S2 cells. We identify Facilitates Chromatin Transcription (FACT) and Nucleosome Remodeling Factor (NURF) as candidate redundant factors.