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Dot1 regulates nucleosome dynamics by its inherent histone chaperone activity in yeast.

Dot1 (disruptor of telomeric silencing-1, DOT1L in humans) is the only known enzyme responsible for histone H3 lysine 79 methylation (H3K79me) and is evolutionarily conserved in most eukaryotes. Yeast Dot1p lacks a SET domain and does not methylate free histones and thus may have different actions with respect to other histone methyltransferases. Here we show that Dot1p displays histone chaperone activity and regulates nucleosome dynamics via histone exchange in yeast. We show that a methylation-independent function of Dot1p is required for the cryptic transcription within transcribed regions seen following disruption of the Set2-Rpd3S pathway. Dot1p can assemble core histones to nucleosomes and facilitate ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling activity through its nucleosome-binding domain, in vitro. Global analysis indicates that Dot1p appears to be particularly important for histone exchange and chromatin accessibility on the transcribed regions of long-length genes. Our findings collectively suggest that Dot1p-mediated histone chaperone activity controls nucleosome dynamics in transcribed regions.

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Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 Methylates Elongin A to Regulate Transcription.

Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2-EZH2) methylates histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27) and is required to maintain gene repression during development. Misregulation of PRC2 is linked to a range of neoplastic malignancies, which is believed to involve methylation of H3K27. However, the full spectrum of non-histone substrates of PRC2 that might also contribute to PRC2 function is not known. We characterized the target recognition specificity of the PRC2 active site and used the resultant data to screen for uncharacterized potential targets. The RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription elongation factor, Elongin A (EloA), is methylated by PRC2 in vivo. Mutation of the methylated EloA residue decreased repression of a subset of PRC2 target genes as measured by both steady-state and nascent RNA levels and perturbed embryonic stem cell differentiation. We propose that PRC2 modulates transcription of a subset of low expression target genes in part via methylation of EloA.

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Polycomb repression complex 2 is required for the maintenance of retinal progenitor cells and balanced retinal differentiation.

Polycomb repressive complexes maintain transcriptional repression of genes encoding crucial developmental regulators through chromatin modification. Here we investigated the role of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) in retinal development by inactivating its key components Eed and Ezh2. Conditional deletion of Ezh2 resulted in a partial loss of PRC2 function and accelerated differentiation of Müller glial cells. In contrast, inactivation of Eed led to the ablation of PRC2 function at early postnatal stage. Cell proliferation was reduced and retinal progenitor cells were significantly decreased in this mutant, which subsequently caused depletion of Müller glia, bipolar, and rod photoreceptor cells, primarily generated from postnatal retinal progenitor cells. Interestingly, the proportion of amacrine cells was dramatically increased at postnatal stages in the Eed-deficient retina. In accordance, multiple transcription factors controlling amacrine cell differentiation were upregulated. Furthermore, ChIP-seq analysis showed that these deregulated genes contained bivalent chromatin (H3K27me3+ H3K4me3+). Our results suggest that PRC2 is required for proliferation in order to maintain the retinal progenitor cells at postnatal stages and for retinal differentiation by controlling amacrine cell generation.

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Altered EZH2 splicing and expression is associated with impaired histone H3 lysine 27 tri-Methylation in myelodysplastic syndrome.

EZH2 (enhancer of zeste homolog 2) is a histone H3K27 methyltransferase involved in the pathogenesis of various hematological malignancies. In myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), loss of function of EZH2 is known to contribute to pathogenesis, however the pattern of EZH2 mRNA and protein expression in MDS has not been extensively characterized.

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A cryptic Tudor domain links BRWD2/PHIP to COMPASS-mediated histone H3K4 methylation.

Histone H3 Lys4 (H3K4) methylation is a chromatin feature enriched at gene cis-regulatory sequences such as promoters and enhancers. Here we identify an evolutionarily conserved factor, BRWD2/PHIP, which colocalizes with histone H3K4 methylation genome-wide in human cells, mouse embryonic stem cells, and Drosophila Biochemical analysis of BRWD2 demonstrated an association with the Cullin-4-RING ubiquitin E3 ligase-4 (CRL4) complex, nucleosomes, and chromatin remodelers. BRWD2/PHIP binds directly to H3K4 methylation through a previously unidentified chromatin-binding module related to Royal Family Tudor domains, which we named the CryptoTudor domain. Using CRISPR-Cas9 genetic knockouts, we demonstrate that COMPASS H3K4 methyltransferase family members differentially regulate BRWD2/PHIP chromatin occupancy. Finally, we demonstrate that depletion of the single Drosophila homolog dBRWD3 results in altered gene expression and aberrant patterns of histone H3 Lys27 acetylation at enhancers and promoters, suggesting a cross-talk between these chromatin modifications and transcription through the BRWD protein family.

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Molecular analysis of PRC2 recruitment to DNA in chromatin and its inhibition by RNA.

Many studies have revealed pathways of epigenetic gene silencing by Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) in vivo, but understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms requires biochemistry. Here we analyze interactions of reconstituted human PRC2 with nucleosome complexes. Histone modifications, the H3K27M cancer mutation, and inclusion of JARID2 or EZH1 in the PRC2 complex have unexpectedly minor effects on PRC2-nucleosome binding. Instead, protein-free linker DNA dominates the PRC2-nucleosome interaction. Specificity for CG-rich sequences is consistent with PRC2 occupying CG-rich DNA in vivo. PRC2 preferentially binds methylated DNA regulated by its AEBP2 subunit, suggesting how DNA and histone methylation collaborate to repress chromatin. We find that RNA, known to inhibit PRC2 activity, is not a methyltransferase inhibitor per se. Instead, RNA sequesters PRC2 from nucleosome substrates, because PRC2 binding requires linker DNA, and RNA and DNA binding are mutually exclusive. Together, we provide a model for PRC2 recruitment and an explanation for how actively transcribed genomic regions bind PRC2 but escape silencing.

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SETD2 alterations impair DNA damage recognition and lead to resistance to chemotherapy in leukemia.

Mutations in SETD2, encoding the histone 3 lysine 36 trimethyltransferase, are enriched in relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia and MLL-rearranged acute leukemia. We investigated the impact of SETD2 mutations on chemotherapy sensitivity in isogenic leukemia cell lines and in murine leukemia generated from a conditional knockout of Setd2. SETD2 mutations led to resistance to DNA-damaging agents, cytarabine, 6-thioguanine, doxorubicin, and etoposide, but not to a non-DNA damaging agent, l-asparaginase. H3K36me3 localizes components of the DNA damage response (DDR) pathway and SETD2 mutation impaired DDR, blunting apoptosis induced by cytotoxic chemotherapy. Consistent with local recruitment of DDR, genomic regions with higher H3K36me3 had a lower mutation rate, which was increased with SETD2 mutation. Heterozygous conditional inactivation of Setd2 in a murine model decreased the latency of MLL-AF9-induced leukemia and caused resistance to cytarabine treatment in vivo, whereas homozygous loss delayed leukemia formation. Treatment with JIB-04, an inhibitor of the H3K9/36me3 demethylase KDM4A, restored H3K36me3 levels and sensitivity to cytarabine. These findings establish SETD2 alteration as a mechanism of resistance to DNA-damaging chemotherapy, consistent with a local loss of DDR, and identify a potential therapeutic strategy to target SETD2-mutant leukemias.

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SMYD5 Controls Heterochromatin and Chromosome Integrity during Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation.

Epigenetic regulation of chromatin states is thought to control gene expression programs during lineage specification. However, the roles of repressive histone modifications, such as trimethylated histone lysine 20 (H4K20me3), in development and genome stability are largely unknown. Here, we show that depletion of SET and MYND domain-containing protein 5 (SMYD5), which mediates H4K20me3, leads to genome-wide decreases in H4K20me3 and H3K9me3 levels and derepression of endogenous LTR- and LINE-repetitive DNA elements during differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells. SMYD5 depletion resulted in chromosomal aberrations and the formation of transformed cells that exhibited decreased H4K20me3 and H3K9me3 levels and an expression signature consistent with multiple human cancers. Moreover, dysregulated gene expression in SMYD5 cancer cells was associated with LTR and endogenous retrovirus elements and decreased H4K20me3. In addition, depletion of SMYD5 in human colon and lung cancer cells results in increased tumor growth and upregulation of genes overexpressed in colon and lung cancers, respectively. These findings implicate an important role for SMYD5 in maintaining chromosome integrity by regulating heterochromatin and repressing endogenous repetitive DNA elements during differentiation. Cancer Res; 77(23); 6729-45. ©2017 AACR.

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Rescuing the aberrant sex development of H3K9 demethylase Jmjd1a-deficient mice by modulating H3K9 methylation balance.

Histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation is a hallmark of heterochromatin. H3K9 demethylation is crucial in mouse sex determination; The H3K9 demethylase Jmjd1a deficiency leads to increased H3K9 methylation at the Sry locus in embryonic gonads, thereby compromising Sry expression and causing male-to-female sex reversal. We hypothesized that the H3K9 methylation level at the Sry locus is finely tuned by the balance in activities between the H3K9 demethylase Jmjd1a and an unidentified H3K9 methyltransferase to ensure correct Sry expression. Here we identified the GLP/G9a H3K9 methyltransferase complex as the enzyme catalyzing H3K9 methylation at the Sry locus. Based on this finding, we tried to rescue the sex-reversal phenotype of Jmjd1a-deficient mice by modulating GLP/G9a complex activity. A heterozygous GLP mutation rescued the sex-reversal phenotype of Jmjd1a-deficient mice by restoring Sry expression. The administration of a chemical inhibitor of GLP/G9a enzyme into Jmjd1a-deficient embryos also successfully rescued sex reversal. Our study not only reveals the molecular mechanism underlying the tuning of Sry expression but also provides proof on the principle of therapeutic strategies based on the pharmacological modulation of epigenetic balance.

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Histone Methyltransferase SET8 Epigenetically Reprograms Host Immune Responses to Assist Mycobacterial Survival.

NQO1 and TRXR1 are important host reductases implicated in the regulation of inflammation and apoptosis. Although the transcriptional machinery governing these processes have been extensively investigated, the associated epigenetic regulatory events remain unclear. Here, we report that SET8, a histone H4 lysine 20 monomethylase (H4K20me1), is highly induced during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection that orchestrates immune evasion strategies through the induction of NQO1 and TRXR1 in vivo. SET8, along with FoxO3a, mediates an active NQO1-PGC1-α complex, which promotes the anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage phenotype, and assists TRXR1-regulated arrest of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-induced apoptosis. Strikingly, the loss-of-function analysis in an in vivo mouse tuberculosis model further corroborated the pivotal role of SET8-responsive NQO1 and TRXR1 in mycobacterial survival. Thus, augmenting host immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis by harnessing the SET8-NQO1/TRXR1 axis with its specific and potent inhibitors could lead to promising host-directed therapeutic adjuvants for tuberculosis treatment.

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