Epigenetic Reader BRD4 (Bromodomain-Containing Protein 4) Governs Nucleus-Encoded Mitochondrial Transcriptome to Regulate Cardiac Function

Soo Young Kim, Xin Zhang, Gabriele G. Schiattarella, Francisco Altamirano, Thais A.R. Ramos, Kristin M. French, Nan Jiang, Pamela A. Szweda, Bret M. Evers, Herman I. May, Xiang Luo, Hongliang Li, Luke I. Szweda, Vinicius Maracaja-Coutinho, Sergio Lavandero, Thomas G. Gillette, Joseph A. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: BET (bromodomain and extraterminal) epigenetic reader proteins, in particular BRD4 (bromodomain-containing protein 4), have emerged as potential therapeutic targets in a number of pathological conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Small-molecule BET protein inhibitors such as JQ1 have demonstrated efficacy in reversing cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure in preclinical models. Yet, genetic studies elucidating the biology of BET proteins in the heart have not been conducted to validate pharmacological findings and to unveil potential pharmacological side effects. Methods: By engineering a cardiomyocyte-specific BRD4 knockout mouse, we investigated the role of BRD4 in cardiac pathophysiology. We performed functional, transcriptomic, and mitochondrial analyses to evaluate BRD4 function in developing and mature hearts. Results: Unlike pharmacological inhibition, loss of BRD4 protein triggered progressive declines in myocardial function, culminating in dilated cardiomyopathy. Transcriptome analysis of BRD4 knockout mouse heart tissue identified early and specific disruption of genes essential to mitochondrial energy production and homeostasis. Functional analysis of isolated mitochondria from these hearts confirmed that BRD4 ablation triggered significant changes in mitochondrial electron transport chain protein expression and activity. Computational analysis identified candidate transcription factors participating in the BRD4-regulated transcriptome. In particular, estrogen-related receptor α, a key nuclear receptor in metabolic gene regulation, was enriched in promoters of BRD4-regulated mitochondrial genes. Conclusions: In aggregate, we describe a previously unrecognized role for BRD4 in regulating cardiomyocyte mitochondrial homeostasis, observing that its function is indispensable to the maintenance of normal cardiac function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2356-2370
Number of pages15
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2020


  • BRD4 protein, human
  • electron transport
  • epigenetics
  • heart failure
  • mitochondria
  • transcription, genetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Epigenetic Reader BRD4 (Bromodomain-Containing Protein 4) Governs Nucleus-Encoded Mitochondrial Transcriptome to Regulate Cardiac Function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this