Epigenetics. Restricted epigenetic inheritance of H3K9 methylation.
ABSTRACT: Posttranslational histone modifications are believed to allow the epigenetic transmission of distinct chromatin states, independently of associated DNA sequences. Histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation is essential for heterochromatin formation; however, a demonstration of its epigenetic heritability is lacking. Fission yeast has a single H3K9 methyltransferase, Clr4, that directs all H3K9 methylation and heterochromatin. Using releasable tethered Clr4 reveals that an active process rapidly erases H3K9 methylation from tethering sites in wild-type cells. However, inactivation of the putative histone demethylase Epe1 allows H3K9 methylation and silent chromatin maintenance at the tethering site through many mitotic divisions, and transgenerationally through meiosis, after release of tethered Clr4. Thus, H3K9 methylation is a heritable epigenetic mark whose transmission is usually countered by its active removal, which prevents the unauthorized inheritance of heterochromatin.
Project description:Changes in histone posttranslational modifications are associated with epigenetic states that define distinct patterns of gene expression. It remains unclear whether epigenetic information can be transmitted through histone modifications independently of specific DNA sequence, DNA methylation, or RNA interference. Here we show that, in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, ectopically induced domains of histone H3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me), a conserved marker of heterochromatin, are inherited through several mitotic and meiotic cell divisions after removal of the sequence-specific initiator. The putative JmjC domain H3K9 demethylase, Epe1, and the chromodomain of the H3K9 methyltransferase, Clr4/Suv39h, play opposing roles in maintaining silent H3K9me domains. These results demonstrate how a direct "read-write" mechanism involving Clr4 propagates histone modifications and allows histones to act as carriers of epigenetic information.
Project description:H3K9 methylation (H3K9me) specifies the establishment and maintenance of transcriptionally silent epigenetic states or heterochromatin. The enzymatic erasure of histone modifications is widely assumed to be the primary mechanism that reverses epigenetic silencing. Here, we reveal an inversion of this paradigm where a putative histone demethylase Epe1 in fission yeast, has a non-enzymatic function that opposes heterochromatin assembly. Mutations within the putative catalytic JmjC domain of Epe1 disrupt its interaction with Swi6<sup>HP1</sup> suggesting that this domain might have other functions besides enzymatic activity. The C-terminus of Epe1 directly interacts with Swi6<sup>HP1</sup>, and H3K9 methylation stimulates this protein-protein interaction in vitro and in vivo. Expressing the Epe1 C-terminus is sufficient to disrupt heterochromatin by outcompeting the histone deacetylase, Clr3 from sites of heterochromatin formation. Our results underscore how histone modifying proteins that resemble enzymes have non-catalytic functions that regulate the assembly of epigenetic complexes in cells.
Project description:Heterochromatin assembly requires methylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me) and serves as a paradigm for understanding the importance of histone modifications in epigenetic genome control. Heterochromatin is nucleated at specific genomic sites and spreads across extended chromosomal domains to promote gene silencing. Moreover, heterochromatic structures can be epigenetically inherited in a self-templating manner, which is critical for stable gene repression. The spreading and inheritance of heterochromatin are believed to be dependent on preexisting H3K9 tri-methylation (H3K9me3), which is recognized by the histone methyltransferase Clr4/Suv39h via its chromodomain, to promote further deposition of H3K9me. However, the process involving the coupling of the "read" and "write" capabilities of histone methyltransferases is poorly understood. From an unbiased genetic screen, we characterize a dominant-negative mutation in histone H3 (H3<sup>G13D</sup>) that impairs the propagation of endogenous and ectopic heterochromatin domains in the fission yeast genome. H3<sup>G13D</sup> blocks methylation of H3K9 by the Clr4/Suv39h methyltransferase and acts in a dosage-dependent manner to interfere with the spreading and maintenance of heterochromatin. Our analyses show that the incorporation of unmethylatable histone H3<sup>G13D</sup> into chromatin decreases H3K9me3 density and thereby compromises the read-write capability of Clr4/Suv39h. Consistently, enhancing the affinity of Clr4/Suv39h for methylated H3K9 is sufficient to overcome the defects in heterochromatin assembly caused by H3<sup>G13D</sup> Our work directly implicates methylated histones in the transmission of epigenetic memory and shows that a critical density threshold of H3K9me3 is required to promote epigenetic inheritance of heterochromatin through the read-write mechanism.
Project description:Histone H3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me) mediates heterochromatic gene silencing and is important for genome stability and the regulation of gene expression1-4. The establishment and epigenetic maintenance of heterochromatin involve the recruitment of H3K9 methyltransferases to specific sites on DNA, followed by the recognition of pre-existing H3K9me by the methyltransferase and methylation of proximal histone H35-11. This positive feedback loop must be tightly regulated to prevent deleterious epigenetic gene silencing. Extrinsic anti-silencing mechanisms involving histone demethylation or boundary elements help to limit the spread of inappropriate H3K9me12-15. However, how H3K9 methyltransferase activity is locally restricted or prevented from initiating random H3K9me-which would lead to aberrant gene silencing and epigenetic instability-is not fully understood. Here we reveal an autoinhibited conformation in the conserved H3K9 methyltransferase Clr4 (also known as Suv39h) of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe that has a critical role in preventing aberrant heterochromatin formation. Biochemical and X-ray crystallographic data show that an internal loop in Clr4 inhibits the catalytic activity of this enzyme by blocking the histone H3K9 substrate-binding pocket, and that automethylation of specific lysines in this loop promotes a conformational switch that enhances the H3K9me activity of Clr4. Mutations that are predicted to disrupt this regulation lead to aberrant H3K9me, loss of heterochromatin domains and inhibition of growth, demonstrating the importance of the intrinsic inhibition and auto-activation of Clr4 in regulating the deposition of H3K9me and in preventing epigenetic instability. Conservation of the Clr4 autoregulatory loop in other H3K9 methyltransferases and the automethylation of a corresponding lysine in the human SUV39H2 homologue16 suggest that the mechanism described here is broadly conserved.
Project description:In fission yeast, RNAi directs heterochromatin formation at centromeres, telomeres, and the mating type locus. Noncoding RNAs transcribed from repeat elements generate siRNAs that are incorporated into the Argonaute-containing RITS complex and direct it to nascent homologous transcripts. This leads to recruitment of the CLRC complex, including the histone methyltransferase Clr4, promoting H3K9 methylation and heterochromatin formation. A key question is what mediates the recruitment of Clr4/CLRC to transcript-bound RITS. We have identified a LIM domain protein, Stc1, that is required for centromeric heterochromatin integrity. Our analyses show that Stc1 is specifically required to establish H3K9 methylation via RNAi, and interacts both with the RNAi effector Ago1, and with the chromatin-modifying CLRC complex. Moreover, tethering Stc1 to a euchromatic locus is sufficient to induce silencing and heterochromatin formation independently of RNAi. We conclude that Stc1 associates with RITS on centromeric transcripts and recruits CLRC, thereby coupling RNAi to chromatin modification.
Project description:In the central domain of fission yeast centromeres, the kinetochore is assembled on CENP-A(Cnp1) nucleosomes. Normally, small interfering RNAs generated from flanking outer repeat transcripts direct histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferase Clr4 to homologous loci to form heterochromatin. Outer repeats, RNA interference (RNAi), and centromeric heterochromatin are required to establish CENP-A(Cnp1) chromatin. We demonstrated that tethering Clr4 via DNA-binding sites at euchromatic loci induces heterochromatin assembly, with or without active RNAi. This synthetic heterochromatin completely substitutes for outer repeats on plasmid-based minichromosomes, promoting de novo CENP-A(Cnp1) and kinetochore assembly, to allow their mitotic segregation, even with RNAi inactive. Thus, the role of outer repeats in centromere establishment is simply the provision of RNAi substrates to direct heterochromatin formation; H3K9 methylation-dependent heterochromatin is alone sufficient to form functional centromeres.
Project description:Heterochromatin causes epigenetic repression that can be transmitted through multiple cell divisions. However, the mechanisms underlying silencing and stability of heterochromatin are not fully understood. We show that heterochromatin differs from euchromatin in histone turnover and identify histone deacetylase (HDAC) Clr3 as a factor required for inhibiting histone turnover across heterochromatin domains in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Loss of RNA-interference factors, Clr4 methyltransferase or HP1 proteins involved in HDAC localization causes increased histone turnover across pericentromeric domains. Clr3 also affects histone turnover at the silent mating-type region, where it can be recruited by alternative mechanisms acting in parallel to H3K9me-HP1. Notably, the JmjC-domain protein Epe1 promotes histone exchange, and loss of Epe1 suppresses both histone turnover and defects in heterochromatic silencing. Our results suggest that heterochromatic-silencing factors preclude histone turnover to promote silencing and inheritance of repressive chromatin.
Project description:Heterochromatin, a highly compact chromatin state characterized by histone H3K9 methylation and HP1 protein binding, silences the underlying DNA and influences the expression of neighboring genes. However, the mechanisms that regulate heterochromatin spreading are not well understood. In this study, we show that the conserved Mst2 histone acetyltransferase complex in fission yeast regulates histone turnover at heterochromatin regions to control heterochromatin spreading and prevents ectopic heterochromatin assembly. The combined loss of Mst2 and the JmjC domain protein Epe1 results in uncontrolled heterochromatin spreading and massive ectopic heterochromatin, leading to severe growth defects due to the inactivation of essential genes. Interestingly, these cells quickly recover by accumulating heterochromatin at genes essential for heterochromatin assembly, leading to their reduced expression to restrain heterochromatin spreading. Our studies discover redundant pathways that control heterochromatin spreading and prevent ectopic heterochromatin assembly and reveal a fast epigenetic adaptation response to changes in heterochromatin landscape.
Project description:In most eukaryotes, histone methylation patterns regulate chromatin architecture and function: methylation of histone H3 lysine-9 (H3K9) demarcates heterochromatin, whereas H3K4 methylation demarcates euchromatin. We show here that the S. pombe JmjC-domain protein Lid2 is a trimethyl H3K4 demethylase responsible for H3K4 hypomethylation in heterochromatin. Lid2 interacts with the histone lysine-9 methyltransferase, Clr4, through the Dos1/Clr8-Rik1 complex, which also functions in the RNA interference pathway. Disruption of the JmjC domain alone results in severe heterochromatin defects and depletion of siRNA, whereas overexpressing Lid2 enhances heterochromatin silencing. The physical and functional link between H3K4 demethylation and H3K9 methylation suggests that the two reactions act in a coordinated manner. Surprisingly, crossregulation of H3K4 and H3K9 methylation in euchromatin also requires Lid2. We suggest that Lid2 enzymatic activity in euchromatin is regulated through a dynamic interplay with other histone-modification enzymes. Our findings provide mechanistic insight into the coordination of H3K4 and H3K9 methylation.
Project description:Heterochromatin assembly in fission yeast depends on the Clr4 histone methyltransferase, which targets H3K9. We show that the histone deacetylase Sir2 is required for Clr4 activity at telomeres, but acts redundantly with Clr3 histone deacetylase to maintain centromeric heterochromatin. However, Sir2 is critical for Clr4 function during de novo centromeric heterochromatin assembly. We identified new targets of Sir2 and tested if their deacetylation is necessary for Clr4-mediated heterochromatin establishment. Sir2 preferentially deacetylates H4K16Ac and H3K4Ac, but mutation of these residues to mimic acetylation did not prevent Clr4-mediated heterochromatin establishment. Sir2 also deacetylates H3K9Ac and H3K14Ac. Strains bearing H3K9 or H3K14 mutations exhibit heterochromatin defects. H3K9 mutation blocks Clr4 function, but why H3K14 mutation impacts heterochromatin was not known. Here, we demonstrate that recruitment of Clr4 to centromeres is blocked by mutation of H3K14. We suggest that Sir2 deacetylates H3K14 to target Clr4 to centromeres. Further, we demonstrate that Sir2 is critical for de novo accumulation of H3K9me2 in RNAi-deficient cells. These analyses place Sir2 and H3K14 deacetylation upstream of Clr4 recruitment during heterochromatin assembly.