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In diseased organs, stress-activated signaling cascades alter chromatin, triggering broad shifts in transcription and cell state that exacerbate pathology. Fibroblast activation is a common stress response that worsens lung, liver, kidney and heart disease, yet its mechanistic basis remains poorly understood. Pharmacologic inhibition of the BET family of transcriptional coactivators alleviates cardiac dysfunction and associated fibrosis, providing a tool to mechanistically interrogate maladaptive fibroblast states and modulate their plasticity as a potential therapeutic approach. Here, we leverage dynamic single cell transcriptomic and epigenomic interrogation of heart tissue with and without BET inhibition to reveal a reversible transcriptional switch underlying stress-induced fibroblast activation. Transcriptomes of resident cardiac fibroblasts demonstrated robust and rapid toggling between the quiescent fibroblast and activated myofibroblast state in a manner that directly correlated with BET inhibitor exposure and cardiac function. Correlation of single cell chromatin accessibility with cardiac function revealed a novel set of reversibly accessible DNA elements that correlated with disease severity. Among the most dynamic elements was an enhancer regulating the transcription factor MEOX1, which was specifically expressed in activated myofibroblasts, occupied putative regulatory elements of a broad fibrotic gene program, and was required for TGFβ-induced myofibroblast activation. CRISPR interference of the most dynamic cis-element within the enhancer, marked by nascent transcription, prevented TGFβ-induced activation of Meox1. These findings identify MEOX1 as a central regulator of stress-induced myofibroblast activation associated with cardiac dysfunction. The plasticity and specificity of the BET-dependent regulation of MEOX1 in endogenous tissue fibroblasts provides new trans- and cis- targets for treating fibrotic disease. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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