The transcriptional activity of Pdx1 is modulated by a diverse array of coregulatory factors that govern chromatin accessibility, histone modifications, and nucleosome distribution. We previously identified the Chd4 subunit of the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase complex as a Pdx1-interacting factor. To identify how loss of Chd4 impacts glucose homeostasis and gene expression programs in β-cells in vivo, we generated an inducible β-cell–specific Chd4 knockout mouse model. Removal of Chd4 from mature islet β-cells rendered mutant animals glucose intolerant, in part due to defects in insulin secretion. We observed an increased ratio of immature-to-mature insulin granules in Chd4-deficient β-cells that correlated with elevated levels of proinsulin both within isolated islets and from plasma following glucose stimulation in vivo. RNA sequencing and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with sequencing showed that lineage-labeled Chd4-deficient β-cells have alterations in chromatin accessibility and altered expression of genes critical for β-cell function, including MafA, Slc2a2, Chga, and Chgb. Knockdown of CHD4 from a human β-cell line revealed similar defects in insulin secretion and alterations in several β-cell–enriched gene targets. These results illustrate how critical Chd4 activities are in controlling genes essential for maintaining β-cell function.

Article Highlights

  • Pdx1–Chd4 interactions were previously shown to be compromised in β-cells from human donors with type 2 diabetes.

  • β-Cell–specific removal of Chd4 impairs insulin secretion and leads to glucose intolerance in mice.

  • Expression of key β-cell functional genes and chromatin accessibility are compromised in Chd4-deficient β-cells.

  • Chromatin remodeling activities enacted by Chd4 are essential for β-cell function under normal physiological conditions.

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