The yeast SWI/SNF complex is involved in remodeling of chromatin structure during transcriptional modulation. One of the key subunits of this complex, called SWI2/SNF2, has a DNA-dependent ATPase activity. Two different types of mammalian homolog of yeast SWI2/SNF2, called BRM and BRG1, were recently identified. They are closely similar in structure but have distinct functions. We investigated the expression of BRM and BRG1 during differentiation of neural precursor cells (NPCs) cultured in vitro. The expression of BRM was very low in NPCs and was induced to a high level during differentiation to neurons and astrocytes. In contrast, BRG1 was constantly expressed throughout differentiation. These phenomena were also observed in differentiation of P19 embryonal carcinoma cells to neural cells. Immunocytochemical analyses revealed that the expression of BRM started even in the undifferentiated nestin-positive cells. These results indicate that BRM may have an important role in neural cell differentiation.

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