Hierarchical reactivation of transcription during mitosis-to-G1 transition by Brn2 and Ascl1 in neural stem cells

Mário A. F. Soares, Diogo S. Soares, Vera Teixeira, Abeer Heskol, Raul Bardini Bressan, Steven M. Pollard, Raquel A. Oliveira, Diogo S. Castro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


During mitosis, chromatin condensation is accompanied by a global arrest of transcription. Recent studies suggest transcriptional reactivation upon mitotic exit occurs in temporally coordinatedwaves, but the underlying regulatory principles have yet to be elucidated. In particular, the contribution of sequence-specific transcription factors (TFs) remains poorly understood. Here we report that Brn2, an important regulator of neural stem cell identity, associates with condensed chromatin throughout cell division, as assessed by live-cell imaging of proliferating neural stem cells. In contrast, the neuronal fate determinant Ascl1 dissociates from mitotic chromosomes. ChIP-seq analysis reveals that Brn2 mitotic chromosome binding does not result in sequence-specific interactions prior to mitotic exit, relying mostly on electrostatic forces. Nevertheless, surveying active transcription using single-molecule RNAFISH against immature transcripts reveals differential reactivation kinetics for key targets of Brn2 and Ascl1, with transcription onset detected in early (anaphase) versus late (early G1) phases, respectively. Moreover, by using a mitotic-specific dominant-negative approach, we show that competing with Brn2 binding during mitotic exit reduces the transcription of its target gene Nestin. Our study shows an important role for differential binding of TFs to mitotic chromosomes, governed by their electrostatic properties, in defining the temporal order of transcriptional reactivation during mitosis-to-G1 transition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1034
Number of pages15
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ascl1
  • Brn2
  • M-G1 transition
  • Mitotic bookmarking
  • Neural stem cell
  • Transcription


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