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H2AK119ub1 differentially fine-tunes gene expression by modulating canonical PRC1- and H1-dependent chromatin compaction.

Molecular Cell 2024 Februrary 30
Polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1) is a key transcriptional regulator in development via modulating chromatin structure and catalyzing histone H2A ubiquitination at Lys119 (H2AK119ub1). H2AK119ub1 is one of the most abundant histone modifications in mammalian cells. However, the function of H2AK119ub1 in polycomb-mediated gene silencing remains debated. In this study, we reveal that H2AK119ub1 has two distinct roles in gene expression, through differentially modulating chromatin compaction mediated by canonical PRC1 and the linker histone H1. Interestingly, we find that H2AK119ub1 plays a positive role in transcription through interfering with the binding of canonical PRC1 to nucleosomes and therefore counteracting chromatin condensation. Conversely, we demonstrate that H2AK119ub1 facilitates H1-dependent chromatin condensation and enhances the silencing of developmental genes in mouse embryonic stem cells, suggesting that H1 may be one of several possible pathways for H2AK119ub1 in repressing transcription. These results provide insights and molecular mechanisms by which H2AK119ub1 differentially fine-tunes developmental gene expression.

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