SUV39 SET domains mediate crosstalk of heterochromatic histone marks.
ABSTRACT: The SUV39 class of methyltransferase enzymes deposits histone H3 lysine 9 di- and trimethylation (H3K9me2/3), the hallmark of constitutive heterochromatin. How these enzymes are regulated to mark specific genomic regions as heterochromatic is poorly understood. Clr4 is the sole H3K9me2/3 methyltransferase in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and recent evidence suggests that ubiquitination of lysine 14 on histone H3 (H3K14ub) plays a key role in H3K9 methylation. However, the molecular mechanism of this regulation and its role in heterochromatin formation remain to be determined. Our structure-function approach shows that the H3K14ub substrate binds specifically and tightly to the catalytic domain of Clr4, and thereby stimulates the enzyme by over 250-fold. Mutations that disrupt this mechanism lead to a loss of H3K9me2/3 and abolish heterochromatin silencing similar to clr4 deletion. Comparison with mammalian SET domain proteins suggests that the Clr4 SET domain harbors a conserved sensor for H3K14ub, which mediates licensing of heterochromatin formation.
Project description:Swi6/HP1, an evolutionarily conserved protein, is critical for heterochromatin assembly in fission yeast and higher eukaryotes. In fission yeast, histone deacetylation by histone deacetylases is thought to be followed by H3-Lys-9 methylation by the histone methyltransferase Clr4/Suv39H1. H3-Lys-9-Me2 interacts with the chromodomain of Swi6/HP1. Swi6/HP1 is thought to act downstream of Clr4/Suv39, and further self-association of Swi6/HP1 is assumed to stabilize the heterochromatin structure. Here, we show that the self-association-defective mutant of Swi6 does not interact with Clr4. It not only fails to localize to heterochromatin loci but also interferes with heterochromatic localization of H3-Lys-9-Me2 (and thereby Clr4) and the endogenous Swi6 in a dominant negative manner. Thus, self-association of Swi6/HP1 helps in binding to and recruitment of Clr4 and thereby in establishment and maintenance of heterochromatin by a concerted rather than a sequential mechanism.
Project description:In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, heterochromatin spread, which is marked by histone 3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me), requires the chromodomains (CDs) of the H3K9 methylase Suv39/Clr4 and the HP1/Swi6 protein. It is unclear how the actions of these two H3K9me-recognizing CDs are coordinated. We find that the intrinsic preference of Suv39/Clr4 is to generate dimethylated H3K9 product. The recognition of pre-existing H3K9me marks by the CD of Suv39/Clr4 stimulates overall catalysis, enabling the accumulation of small amounts of trimethylated product in vivo. Coincidentally, the Suv39/Clr4 CD, unlike the HP1/Swi6 CD, has been shown to prefer the trimethyl state over the dimethyl state. We show that this preference enables efficient heterochromatin spread in vivo by reducing competition with HP1 proteins for the more prevalent dimethyl state. Our results reveal a strategy by which "writers" and "readers" of a chromatin mark exploit different methylation states on the same residue in order to facilitate collaboration and avoid competition.
Project description:Heterochromatin, characterized by histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation, assembles on repetitive regions including centromeres. Although centromeric heterochromatin is important for correct segregation of chromosomes, its exact role in maintaining centromere integrity remains elusive. Here, we found in fission yeast that heterochromatin suppresses gross chromosomal rearrangements (GCRs) at centromeres. Mutations in Clr4/Suv39 methyltransferase increased the formation of isochromosomes, whose breakpoints were located in centromere repeats. H3K9A and H3K9R mutations also increased GCRs, suggesting that Clr4 suppresses centromeric GCRs via H3K9 methylation. HP1 homologs Swi6 and Chp2 and the RNAi component Chp1 were the chromodomain proteins essential for full suppression of GCRs. Remarkably, mutations in RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) or Tfs1/TFIIS, the transcription factor that facilitates restart of RNAPII after backtracking, specifically bypassed the requirement of Clr4 for suppressing GCRs. These results demonstrate that heterochromatin suppresses GCRs by repressing Tfs1-dependent transcription of centromere repeats.
Project description:Heterochromatin is defined by distinct posttranslational modifications on histones, such as methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9), which allows heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1)-related chromodomain proteins to bind. Heterochromatin is frequently found near CENP-A chromatin, which is the key determinant of kinetochore assembly. We have discovered that the RNA interference (RNAi)-directed heterochromatin flanking the central kinetochore domain at fission yeast centromeres is required to promote CENP-A(Cnp1) and kinetochore assembly over the central domain. The H3K9 methyltransferase Clr4 (Suv39); the ribonuclease Dicer, which cleaves heterochromatic double-stranded RNA to small interfering RNA (siRNA); Chp1, a component of the RNAi effector complex (RNA-induced initiation of transcriptional gene silencing; RITS); and Swi6 (HP1) are required to establish CENP-A(Cnp1) chromatin on naïve templates. Once assembled, CENP-A(Cnp1) chromatin is propagated by epigenetic means in the absence of heterochromatin. Thus, another, potentially conserved, role for centromeric RNAi-directed heterochromatin has been identified.
Project description:The methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9me), performed by the methyltransferase Clr4/SUV39H, is a key event in heterochromatin assembly. In fission yeast, Clr4, together with the ubiquitin E3 ligase Cul4, forms the Clr4 methyltransferase complex (CLRC), whose physiological targets and biological role are currently unclear. Here we show that CLRC-dependent H3 ubiquitylation regulates Clr4's methyltransferase activity. Affinity-purified CLRC ubiquitylates histone H3, and mass spectrometric and mutation analyses reveal that H3-lysine 14 (H3K14) is the preferred target of the complex. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis shows that H3K14 ubiquitylation (H3K14ub) is closely associated with H3K9me-enriched chromatin. Notably, the CLRC-mediated H3 ubiquitylation promotes H3K9me by Clr4, suggesting that H3 ubiquitylation is intimately linked to the establishment and/or maintenance of H3K9me. These findings demonstrate a cross-talk mechanism between histone ubiquitylation and methylation that is involved in heterochromatin assembly.
Project description:The methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9me), performed by the methyltransferase Clr4/SUV39H, is a key event in heterochromatin assembly. In fission yeast, Clr4, together with the ubiquitin E3 ligase Cul4, forms the Clr4 methyltransferase complex (CLRC), whose physiological targets and biological role are currently unclear. Here, we show that CLRC-dependent H3 ubiquitylation regulates Clr4's methyltransferase activity. Affinity-purified CLRC ubiquitylates histone H3, and mass spectrometric and mutation analyses reveal that H3 lysine 14 (H3K14) is the preferred target of the complex. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis shows that H3K14 ubiquitylation (H3K14ub) is closely associated with H3K9me-enriched chromatin. Notably, the CLRC-mediated H3 ubiquitylation promotes H3K9me by Clr4, suggesting that H3 ubiquitylation is intimately linked to the establishment and/or maintenance of H3K9me. These findings demonstrate a cross-talk mechanism between histone ubiquitylation and methylation that is involved in heterochromatin assembly.
Project description:Pervasive transcription of eukaryotic genomes generates a plethora of noncoding RNAs. In fission yeast, the heterochromatin factor Clr4/Suv39 methyltransferase facilitates RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated processing of centromeric transcripts into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Clr4 also mediates degradation of antisense RNAs at euchromatic loci, but the underlying mechanism has remained elusive. We show that Clr4 and the RNAi effector RITS (RNA-induced transcriptional silencing) interact with Mlo3, a protein related to mRNA quality control and export factors. Loss of Clr4 impairs RITS interaction with Mlo3, which is required for centromeric siRNA production and antisense suppression. Mlo3 also interacts with the RNA surveillance factor TRAMP, which suppresses antisense RNAs targeted by Clr4 and RNAi. These findings link Clr4 to RNA quality control machinery and suggest a pathway for processing potentially deleterious RNAs through the coordinated actions of RNAi and other RNA processing activities.
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:Formation of centromeric heterochromatin in fission yeast requires the combined action of chromatin modifying enzymes and small RNAs derived from centromeric transcripts. Positive feedback mechanisms that link the RNAi pathway and the Clr4/Suv39h1 histone H3K9 methyltransferase complex (Clr-C) result in requirements for H3K9 methylation for full siRNA production and for siRNA production to achieve full histone methylation. Nonetheless, it has been proposed that the Argonaute protein, Ago1, is the key initial trigger for heterochromatin assembly via its association with Dicer-independent "priRNAs." The RITS complex physically links Ago1 and the H3-K9me binding protein Chp1. Here we exploit an assay for heterochromatin assembly in which loss of silencing by deletion of RNAi or Clr-C components can be reversed by re-introduction of the deleted gene. We showed previously that a mutant version of the RITS complex (Tas3(WG)) that biochemically separates Ago1 from Chp1 and Tas3 proteins permits maintenance of heterochromatin, but prevents its formation when Clr4 is removed and re-introduced. Here we show that the block occurs with mutants in Clr-C, but not mutants in the RNAi pathway. Thus, Clr-C components, but not RNAi factors, play a more critical role in assembly when the integrity of RITS is disrupted. Consistent with previous reports, cells lacking Clr-C components completely lack H3K9me2 on centromeric DNA repeats, whereas RNAi pathway mutants accumulate low levels of H3K9me2. Further supporting the existence of RNAi-independent mechanisms for establishment of centromeric heterochromatin, overexpression of clr4(+) in clr4?ago1? cells results in some de novo H3K9me2 accumulation at centromeres. These findings and our observation that ago1? and dcr1? mutants display indistinguishable low levels of H3K9me2 (in contrast to a previous report) challenge the model that priRNAs trigger heterochromatin formation. Instead, our results indicate that RNAi cooperates with RNAi-independent factors in the assembly of heterochromatin.
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.