UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Additional sex combs interacts with enhancer of zeste and trithorax and modulates levels of trimethylation on histone H3K4 and H3K27 during transcription of hsp70 Li, Taosui; Hodgson, Jacob W; Petruk, Svetlana; Mazo, Alexander; Brock, Hugh W

Abstract

Background: Maintenance of cell fate determination requires the Polycomb group for repression; the trithorax group for gene activation; and the enhancer of trithorax and Polycomb (ETP) group for both repression and activation. Additional sex combs (Asx) is a genetically identified ETP for the Hox loci, but the molecular basis of its dual function is unclear. Results: We show that in vitro, Asx binds directly to the SET domains of the histone methyltransferases (HMT) enhancer of zeste [E(z)] (H3K27me3) and Trx (H3K4me3) through a bipartite interaction site separated by 846 amino acid residues. In Drosophila S2 cell nuclei, Asx interacts with E(z) and Trx in vivo. Drosophila Asx is required for repression of heat-shock gene hsp70 and is recruited downstream of the hsp70 promoter. Changes in the levels of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 downstream of the hsp70 promoter in Asx mutants relative to wild type show that Asx regulates H3K4 and H3K27 trimethylation. Conclusions: We propose that during transcription Asx modulates the ratio of H3K4me3 to H3K27me3 by selectively recruiting the antagonistic HMTs, E(z) and Trx or other nucleosome-modifying enzymes to hsp70.

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