The Nuclear Receptor PPARγ Controls Progressive Macrophage Polarization as a Ligand-Insensitive Epigenomic Ratchet of Transcriptional Memory

Bence Daniel, Gergely Nagy, Zsolt Czimmerer, Attila Horvath, David W. Hammers, Ixchelt Cuaranta-Monroy, Szilard Poliska, Petros Tzerpos, Zsuzsanna Kolostyak, Tristan T. Hays, Andreas Patsalos, René Houtman, Sascha Sauer, Jean Francois-Deleuze, Fraydoon Rastinejad, Balint L. Balint, H. Lee Sweeney, Laszlo Nagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Macrophages polarize into distinct phenotypes in response to complex environmental cues. We found that the nuclear receptor PPARγ drove robust phenotypic changes in macrophages upon repeated stimulation with interleukin (IL)-4. The functions of PPARγ on macrophage polarization in this setting were independent of ligand binding. Ligand-insensitive PPARγ bound DNA and recruited the coactivator P300 and the architectural protein RAD21. This established a permissive chromatin environment that conferred transcriptional memory by facilitating the binding of the transcriptional regulator STAT6 and RNA polymerase II, leading to robust production of enhancer and mRNAs upon IL-4 re-stimulation. Ligand-insensitive PPARγ binding controlled the expression of an extracellular matrix remodeling-related gene network in macrophages. Expression of these genes increased during muscle regeneration in a mouse model of injury, and this increase coincided with the detection of IL-4 and PPARγ in the affected tissue. Thus, a predominantly ligand-insensitive PPARγ:RXR cistrome regulates progressive and/or reinforcing macrophage polarization. Daniel et al. describe that the nuclear receptor PPARγ has a significant ligand-insensitive, genome-bound fraction that affects local chromatin structure upon macrophage polarization. Ligand-insensitive PPARγ mediates the expression of a hidden gene set upon repeated IL-4 exposure, providing transcriptional memory and an epigenomic ratchet mechanism to support progressive polarization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-626.e6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 16 2018


  • IFN-γ
  • IL-4
  • Nuclear receptor
  • PPARγ
  • coregulators
  • epigenomics
  • ligand-insensitive enhancers
  • macrophage polarization
  • muscle regeneration
  • progressive polarization
  • transcriptional memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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