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Mol Cell. 2010 Aug 13;39(3):360-72. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.07.017.

The methyltransferase activity of Clr4Suv39h triggers RNAi independently of histone H3K9 methylation.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In fission yeast, the pericentromeric dg and dh repeats are transcribed and give rise to small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) by a mechanism that depends on the Clr4(suv39h) histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methyltransferase. Here, we show that Clr4 activity promotes the assembly of a tripartite complex composed of the Clr4-containing CLRC complex and complexes involved in siRNA generation. However, unlike dh siRNAs, dg siRNAs accumulate to near wild-type levels in cells with H3K9 substitutions that cannot be methylated. Thus, Clr4 activity controls siRNA amplification from the different repeat regions by different mechanisms, H3K9 methylation dependent versus independent. Furthermore, artificial tethering of Rik1, a core subunit of the CLRC complex, to a euchromatic RNA mediates RNAi-dependent silencing that partially bypasses the requirement for other CLRC subunits. These findings establish Rik1 as a key link between CLRC and RNAi and reveal distinct centromeric siRNA amplification mechanisms that depend on the Clr4 methyltransferase activity.

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