PHF1 compartmentalizes PRC2 via phase separation.
Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is central to polycomb repression as it trimethylates lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27me3). How PRC2 is recruited to its targets to deposit H3K27me3 remains an open question. Polycomb-like (PCL) proteins, a group of conserved PRC2 accessory proteins, can direct PRC2 to its targets. In this report, we demonstrate that a PCL protein named PHF1 forms phase-separated condensates at H3K27me3 loci that recruit PRC2. Combining cellular observation and biochemical reconstitution, we show that the N-terminal domains of PHF1 cooperatively mediate target recognition, the chromo-like domain recruits PRC2, and the intrinsically disordered region (IDR) drives phase separation. Moreover, we reveal that the condensates compartmentalize PRC2, DNA, and nucleosome arrays by phase separation. Luciferase reporter assays confirm that PHF1 phase separation promotes transcription repression, further supporting a role of the condensates in polycomb repression. Based on our findings, we propose that these condensates create favorable microenvironments at the target loci for PRC2 to function.
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