Project description:We tested the ability of trans siRNAs to establish a silent allele of endogenous ade6+ or an ade6+ transgene inserted within euchromatic loci. We found that a silent ade6-OFF epi-allele that grows red on low adenine medium could be established in several mutant backgrounds (mlo3∆, leo1∆) in the presence of ectopic siRNAs. Furthermore, we found that the silent ade6-OFF epi-allele could be meiotically inherited to wildtype progeny lacking the establishing mutation or ectopic siRNAs. Here, we sequenced genome-wide DNA associated with conserved heterochromatin markers and found that silencing of the endogenous ade6 locus correlates with increased spreading of H3K9me2 and H3K9me3. Additionally, heterochromatin domains established with cen::ade6 as the ectopic siRNA-producing locus were associated with significantly more spreading of H3K9me2 and H3K9me3 than those established using an ade6 hairpin as the driver siRNA-producing locus. Overall design: Examination of H3K9me2 or H3K9me3
Project description:Histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) are associated with epigenetic states that form the basis for cell-type-specific gene expression1,2. Once established, histone PTMs can be maintained by positive feedback involving enzymes that recognize a pre-existing histone modification and catalyse the same modification on newly deposited histones. Recent studies suggest that in wild-type cells, histone PTM-based positive feedback is too weak to mediate epigenetic inheritance in the absence of other inputs3-7. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated histone H3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me) and heterochromatin formation define a potential epigenetic inheritance mechanism in which positive feedback involving short interfering RNA (siRNA) amplification can be directly coupled to histone PTM positive feedback8-14. However, it is not known whether the coupling of these two feedback loops can maintain epigenetic silencing independently of DNA sequence and in the absence of enabling mutations that disrupt genome-wide chromatin structure or transcription15-17. Here, using the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we show that siRNA-induced H3K9me and silencing of a euchromatic gene can be epigenetically inherited in cis during multiple mitotic and meiotic cell divisions in wild-type cells. This inheritance involves the spreading of secondary siRNAs and H3K9me3 to the targeted gene and surrounding areas, and requires both RNAi and H3K9me, suggesting that the siRNA and H3K9me positive-feedback loops act synergistically to maintain silencing. By contrast, when maintained solely by histone PTM positive feedback, silencing is erased by H3K9 demethylation promoted by Epe1, or by interallelic interactions that occur after mating to cells containing an expressed allele even in the absence of Epe1. These findings demonstrate that the RNAi machinery can mediate transgenerational epigenetic inheritance independently of DNA sequence or enabling mutations, and reveal a role for the coupling of the siRNA and H3K9me positive-feedback loops in the protection of epigenetic alleles from erasure.
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:Gene silencing mediated by dsRNA (RNAi) can persist for multiple generations in Caenorhabditis elegans (termed RNAi inheritance). Here we describe the results of a forward genetic screen in C. elegans that has identified six factors required for RNAi inheritance: GLH-1/VASA, PUP-1/CDE-1, MORC-1, SET-32, and two novel nematode-specific factors that we term here (heritable RNAi defective) HRDE-2 and HRDE-4 The new RNAi inheritance factors exhibit mortal germline (Mrt) phenotypes, which we show is likely caused by epigenetic deregulation in germ cells. We also show that HRDE-2 contributes to RNAi inheritance by facilitating the binding of small RNAs to the inheritance Argonaute (Ago) HRDE-1 Together, our results identify additional components of the RNAi inheritance machinery whose conservation provides insights into the molecular mechanism of RNAi inheritance, further our understanding of how the RNAi inheritance machinery promotes germline immortality, and show that HRDE-2 couples the inheritance Ago HRDE-1 with the small RNAs it needs to direct RNAi inheritance and germline immortality.
Project description:In fission yeast, the RNAi pathway is required for centromeric heterochromatin assembly. siRNAs derived from centromeric transcripts are incorporated into the RNA-induced transcriptional silencing (RITS) complex and direct it to nascent homologous transcripts. The RNA-induced transcriptional silencing-bound nascent transcripts further recruit the RNA-directed RNA polymerase complex (RDRC) to promote dsRNA synthesis and siRNA production. Heterochromatin coated with Swi6/Heterochromain Protein 1 is then formed following recruitment of chromatin modification machinery. Swi6 is also required for the upstream production of siRNA, although the mechanism for this has remained obscure. Here, we demonstrate that Swi6 recruits RDRC to heterochromatin through Ers1, an RNAi factor intermediate. An ers1(+) mutant allele (ers1-C62) was identified in a genetic screen for mutants that alleviate centromeric silencing, and this phenotype was suppressed by overexpression of either the Hrr1 RDRC subunit or Clr4 histone H3-K9 methyltransferase. Ers1 physically interacts with Hrr1, and loss of Ers1 impairs RDRC centromeric localization. Although Ers1 failed to bind Clr4, a direct interaction with Swi6 was detected, and centromeric localization of Swi6 was enhanced by Clr4 overexpression in ers1-C62 cells. Consistent with this, deletion of swi6(+) reduced centromeric localization of Ers1 and RDRC. Moreover, tethering of Ers1 or Hrr1 to centromeric heterochromatin partially bypassed Swi6 function. These findings demonstrate an alternative mechanism for RDRC recruitment and explain the essential role of Swi6/Heterochromain Protein 1 in RNAi-directed heterochromatin assembly.
Project description:We tested the ability of trans siRNAs to establish a silent allele of endogenous ade6+ or an ade6+ transgene inserted within euchromatic loci. We found that a silent ade6-OFF epi-allele that grows red on low adenine medium could be established in several mutant backgrounds (mlo3∆, leo1∆) in the presence of ectopic siRNAs. Furthermore, we found that the silent ade6-OFF epi-allele could be meiotically inherited to wildtype progeny lacking the establishing mutation or ectopic siRNAs. Here, we sequenced genome-wide small RNAs and found widespread generation of secondary siRNAs at genes surrounding the ade6-OFF locus in cells expressing the ectopic siRNAs source cen::ade6. In wildtype meiotic progeny lacking the driver cen::ade6 siRNAs, we observed establishment of a local siRNA producing locus at genes adjacent to the endogenous ade6-OFF or at a kanMX-ade6-OFF transgene inserted within euchromatic loci. In contrast, spreading of secondary siRNAs was limited or nonexistent in ade6-ON cells. Finally, we found that spreading of secondary siRNAs at the endogenous ade6 locus was limited when an ade6 hairpin construct served as the ectopic siRNA driver locus instead of cen::ade6. Overall design: Non-coding RNA profiling by high throughput sequencing
Project description:Centromere is a specialized chromatin domain that plays a vital role in chromosome segregation. In most eukaryotes, centromere is surrounded by the epigenetically distinct heterochromatin domain. Heterochromatin has been shown to contribute to centromere function, but the precise role of heterochromatin in centromere specification remains elusive. Centromeres in most eukaryotes, including fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe), are defined epigenetically by the histone H3 (H3) variant CENP-A. In contrast, the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has genetically-defined point centromeres. The transition between regional centromeres and point centromeres is considered as one of the most dramatic evolutionary events in centromere evolution. Here we demonstrated that Cse4, the budding yeast CENP-A homolog, can localize to centromeres in fission yeast and partially substitute fission yeast CENP-ACnp1. But overexpression of Cse4 results in its localization to heterochromatic regions. Cse4 is subject to efficient ubiquitin-dependent degradation in S. pombe, and its N-terminal domain dictates its centromere distribution via ubiquitination. Notably, without heterochromatin and RNA interference (RNAi), Cse4 fails to associate with centromeres. We showed that RNAi-dependent heterochromatin mediates centromeric localization of Cse4 by protecting Cse4 from ubiquitin-dependent degradation. Heterochromatin also contributes to the association of native CENP-ACnp1 with centromeres via the same mechanism. These findings suggest that protection of CENP-A from degradation by heterochromatin is a general mechanism used for centromere assembly, and also provide novel insights into centromere evolution.
Project description:Heterochromatin assembly at Schizosaccharomyces pombe centromeres involves a self-reinforcing loop mechanism wherein chromatin-bound RNAi factors facilitate targeting of Clr4-Rik1 methyltransferase. However, the initial nucleation of heterochromatin has remained elusive. We show that cells lacking Mlo3, a protein involved in mRNP biogenesis and RNA quality control, assemble functional heterochromatin in RNAi-deficient cells. Heterochromatin restoration is linked to RNA surveillance because loss of Mlo3-associated TRAMP also rescues heterochromatin defects of RNAi mutants. mlo3?, which causes accumulation of bidirectional repeat-transcripts, restores Rik1 enrichment at repeats and triggers de novo heterochromatin formation in the absence of RNAi. RNAi-independent heterochromatin nucleation occurs at selected euchromatic loci that show upregulation of antisense RNAs in mlo3? cells. We find that the exosome RNA degradation machinery acts parallel to RNAi to promote heterochromatin formation at centromeres. These results suggest that RNAi-independent mechanisms exploit transcription and non-coding RNAs to nucleate heterochromatin.