JOURNAL ARTICLE

H3K36 methylation antagonizes PRC2-mediated H3K27 methylation

Wen Yuan, Mo Xu, Chang Huang, Nan Liu, She Chen, Bing Zhu
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2011 March 11, 286 (10): 7983-9
21239496
H3K27 methylation mediated by the histone methyltransferase complex PRC2 is critical for transcriptional regulation, Polycomb silencing, Drosophila segmentation, mammalian X chromosome inactivation, and cancer. PRC2-mediated H3K27 methylation can spread along the chromatin and propagate the repressive chromatin environment; thus, chromatin components that antagonize the activity of PRC2 are important for restraining Polycomb silencing. Here we report that in HeLa cells, H3 histones unmethylated at Lys-36 are mostly methylated at Lys-27, with the exception of newly synthesized H3. In addition, K27me3 rarely co-exists with K36me2 or K36me3 on the same histone H3 polypeptide. Moreover, PRC2 activity is greatly inhibited on nucleosomal substrates with preinstalled H3K36 methylation. These findings collectively identify H3K36 methylation as a chromatin component that restricts the PRC2-mediated spread of H3K27 methylation. Finally, we provide evidence that the controversial histone lysine methyltransferase Ash1, a known Trithorax group protein that antagonizes Polycomb silencing in vivo, is an H3K36-specific dimethylase, not an H3K4 methylase, further supporting the role of H3K36 methylation in antagonizing PRC2-mediated H3K27 methylation.

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