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G-quadruplex folding in Xist RNA antagonizes PRC2 activity for stepwise regulation of X chromosome inactivation.

Molecular Cell 2024 May 17
How Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is regulated by RNA remains an unsolved problem. Although PRC2 binds G-tracts with the potential to form RNA G-quadruplexes (rG4s), whether rG4s fold extensively in vivo and whether PRC2 binds folded or unfolded rG4 are unknown. Using the X-inactivation model in mouse embryonic stem cells, here we identify multiple folded rG4s in Xist RNA and demonstrate that PRC2 preferentially binds folded rG4s. High-affinity rG4 binding inhibits PRC2's histone methyltransferase activity, and stabilizing rG4 in vivo antagonizes H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3) enrichment on the inactive X chromosome. Surprisingly, mutagenizing the rG4 does not affect PRC2 recruitment but promotes its release and catalytic activation on chromatin. H3K27me3 marks are misplaced, however, and gene silencing is compromised. Xist-PRC2 complexes become entrapped in the S1 chromosome compartment, precluding the required translocation into the S2 compartment. Thus, Xist rG4 folding controls PRC2 activity, H3K27me3 enrichment, and the stepwise regulation of chromosome-wide gene silencing.

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