Apr 18, 2020

Membrane receptor MerTK is a newly identified transcriptional regulator that associates to chromatin as nanoclusters during human DC differentiation

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
K. J. E. BorgmanMaria F. Garcia-Parajo

Abstract

MerTK is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) mainly expressed in dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages where it plays an important role in immunotolerance, but also in activating oncogenic signalling pathways. Albeit MerTK is exploited as clinical target in cancer and auto-immune disorders, the mechanisms that regulate its diverse functions are poorly understood. Here, we identified a remarkably high pool of the full receptor in the nucleus of human DCs. Nuclear translocation was ligand-dependent. Importantly, MerTK nuclear levels correlated to DC differentiation and were spatiotemporally regulated by the transmembrane receptor LRP-1. Using dual-colour super-resolution nanoscopy we discovered that nuclear MerTK forms nanoclusters, whose strength strongly depends on chromatin accessibility during DC differentiation. We finally revealed high transcription capacity of MerTK. Overall, our work indicates that nuclear MerTK acts as a transcription factor regulating DC differentiation, thus implicating for the first time a physiological function for RTK nuclear translocation in immunity.

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