skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 10:00 PM ET on Friday, December 8 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 9 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Dri1 mediates heterochromatin assembly via RNAi and histone deacetylation
Abstract Heterochromatin, a transcriptionally silenced chromatin domain, is important for genome stability and gene expression. Histone 3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me) and histone hypoacetylation are conserved epigenetic hallmarks of heterochromatin. In fission yeast, RNA interference (RNAi) plays a key role in H3K9 methylation and heterochromatin silencing. However, how RNAi machinery and histone deacetylases (HDACs) are coordinated to ensure proper heterochromatin assembly is still unclear. Previously, we showed that Dpb4, a conserved DNA polymerase epsilon subunit, plays a key role in the recruitment of HDACs to heterochromatin during S phase. Here, we identified a novel RNA-binding protein Dri1 that interacts with Dpb4. GFP-tagged Dri1 forms distinct foci mostly in the nucleus, showing a high degree of colocalization with Swi6/Heterochromatin Protein 1. Deletion of dri1+ leads to defects in silencing, H3K9me, and heterochromatic siRNA generation. We also showed that Dri1 physically associates with heterochromatic transcripts, and is required for the recruitment of the RNA-induced transcriptional silencing (RITS) complex via interacting with the complex. Furthermore, loss of Dri1 decreases the association of the Sir2 HDAC with heterochromatin. We further demonstrated that the C-terminus of Dri1 that includes an intrinsically disordered (IDR) region and three zinc fingers is crucial for its role in silencing. Together, our evidences suggest that Dri1 facilitates heterochromatin assembly via the RNAi pathway and HDAC.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Freitag, M
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are widely utilized for transcriptional repression in eukaryotes. Here, we characterize, in the protist Tetrahymena thermophila, the EZL1 (E(z)-like 1) complex, with components conserved in metazoan Polycomb Repressive Complexes 1 and 2 (PRC1 and PRC2). The EZL1 complex is required for histone H3 K27 and K9 methylation, heterochromatin formation, transposable element control, and programmed genome rearrangement. The EZL1 complex interacts with EMA1, a helicase required for RNA interference (RNAi). This interaction is implicated in co-transcriptional recruitment of the EZL1 complex. Binding of H3K27 and H3K9 methylation by PDD1—another PcG protein interacting with the EZL1 complex—reinforces its chromatin association. The EZL1 complex is an integral part of Polycomb bodies, which exhibit dynamic distribution in Tetrahymena development: Their dispersion is driven by chromatin association, while their coalescence by PDD1, likely via phase separation. Our results provide a molecular mechanism connecting RNAi and Polycomb repression, which coordinately regulate nuclear bodies and reorganize the genome. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Heterochromatic gene silencing relies on combinatorial control by specific histone modifications, the occurrence of transcription, and/or RNA degradation. Once nucleated, heterochromatin propagates within defined chromosomal regions and is maintained throughout cell divisions to warrant proper genome expression and integrity. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the Ccr4-Not complex partakes in gene silencing, but its relative contribution to distinct heterochromatin domains and its role in nucleation versus spreading have remained elusive. Here, we unveil major functions for Ccr4-Not in silencing and heterochromatin spreading at the mating type locus and subtelomeres. Mutations of the catalytic subunits Caf1 or Mot2, involved in RNA deadenylation and protein ubiquitinylation, respectively, result in impaired propagation of H3K9me3 and massive accumulation of nucleation-distal heterochromatic transcripts. Both silencing and spreading defects are suppressed upon disruption of the heterochromatin antagonizing factor Epe1. Overall, our results position the Ccr4-Not complex as a critical, dual regulator of heterochromatic gene silencing and spreading.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    DNA methylation is an evolutionarily conserved epigenetic mechanism essential for transposon silencing and heterochromatin assembly. In plants, DNA methylation widely occurs in the CG, CHG, and CHH (H = A, C, or T) contexts, with the maintenance of CHG methylation mediated by CMT3 chromomethylase. However, how CMT3 interacts with the chromatin environment for faithful maintenance of CHG methylation is unclear. Here we report structure-function characterization of the H3K9me2-directed maintenance of CHG methylation by CMT3 and itsZea maysortholog ZMET2. Base-specific interactions and DNA deformation coordinately underpin the substrate specificity of CMT3 and ZMET2, while a bivalent readout of H3K9me2 and H3K18 allosterically stimulates substrate binding. Disruption of the interaction with DNA or H3K9me2/H3K18 led to loss of CMT3/ZMET2 activity in vitro and impairment of genome-wide CHG methylation in vivo. Together, our study uncovers how the intricate interplay of CMT3, repressive histone marks, and DNA sequence mediates heterochromatic CHG methylation.

    more » « less
  4. Across eukaryotes, gene regulation is manifested via chromatin states roughly distinguished as heterochromatin and euchromatin. The establishment, maintenance, and modulation of the chromatin states is mediated using several factors including chromatin modifiers. However, factors that avoid the intrusion of silencing signals into protein-coding genes are poorly understood. Here we show that a plant specific paralog of RNA polymerase (Pol) II, named Pol IV, is involved in avoidance of facultative heterochromatic marks in protein-coding genes, in addition to its well-established functions in silencing repeats and transposons. In its absence, H3K27 trimethylation (me3) mark intruded the protein-coding genes, more profoundly in genes embedded with repeats. In a subset of genes, spurious transcriptional activity resulted in small(s) RNA production, leading to post-transcriptional gene silencing. We show that such effects are significantly pronounced in rice, a plant with a larger genome with distributed heterochromatin compared withArabidopsis. Our results indicate the division of labor among plant-specific polymerases, not just in establishing effective silencing via sRNAs and DNA methylation but also in influencing chromatin boundaries.

    more » « less
  5. Heterochromatic domains are enriched with repressive histone marks, including histone H3 lysine 9 methylation, written by lysine methyltransferases (KMTs). The pre-replication complex protein, origin recognition complex-associated (ORCA/LRWD1), preferentially localizes to heterochromatic regions in post-replicated cells. Its role in heterochromatin organization remained elusive. ORCA recognizes methylated H3K9 marks and interacts with repressive KMTs, including G9a/GLP and Suv39H1 in a chromatin context-dependent manner. Single-molecule pull-down assays demonstrate that ORCA-ORC (Origin Recognition Complex) and multiple H3K9 KMTs exist in a single complex and that ORCA stabilizes H3K9 KMT complex. Cells lacking ORCA show alterations in chromatin architecture, with significantly reduced H3K9 di- and tri-methylation at specific chromatin sites. Changes in heterochromatin structure due to loss of ORCA affect replication timing, preferentially at the late-replicating regions. We demonstrate that ORCA acts as a scaffold for the establishment of H3K9 KMT complex and its association and activity at specific chromatin sites is crucial for the organization of heterochromatin structure.

    more » « less