- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Freitag, M
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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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
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.
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 its
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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 with
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