J Dubois-Chevalier, V Dubois, H Dehondt, P Mazrooei, C Mazuy, AA Sérandour, C Gheeraert, P Guillaume, E Baugé, B Derudas, N Hennuyer, R Paumelle, G Marot, JS Carroll, M Lupien, B Staels, P Lefebvre, J Eeckhoute
Control of gene transcription relies on concomitant regulation by multiple transcriptional regulators (TRs). However, how recruitment of a myriad of TRs is orchestrated at cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) to account for coregulation of specific biological pathways is only partially understood. Here, we have used mouse liver CRMs involved in regulatory activities of the hepatic TR, NR1H4 (FXR; farnesoid X receptor), as our model system to tackle this question. Using integrative cistromic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and interactomic analyses, we reveal a logical organization where trans-regulatory modules (TRMs), which consist of subsets of preferentially and coordinately corecruited TRs, assemble into hierarchical combinations at hepatic CRMs. Different combinations of TRMs add to a core TRM, broadly found across the whole landscape of CRMs, to discriminate promoters from enhancers. These combinations also specify distinct sets of CRM differentially organized along the genome and involved in regulation of either housekeeping/cellular maintenance genes or liver-specific functions. In addition to these TRMs which we define as obligatory, we show that facultative TRMs, such as one comprising core circadian TRs, are further recruited to selective subsets of CRMs to modulate their activities. TRMs transcend TR classification into ubiquitous versus liver-identity factors, as well as TR grouping into functional families. Hence, hierarchical superimpositions of obligatory and facultative TRMs bring about independent transcriptional regulatory inputs defining different sets of CRMs with logical connection to regulation of specific gene sets and biological pathways. Altogether, our study reveals novel principles of concerted transcriptional regulation by multiple TRs at CRMs.