Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Genes Dev. 2011 Oct 15;25(20):2210-21. doi: 10.1101/gad.17288211.

Compaction of chromatin by diverse Polycomb group proteins requires localized regions of high charge.

Author information

Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are required for the epigenetic maintenance of developmental genes in a silent state. Proteins in the Polycomb-repressive complex 1 (PRC1) class of the PcG are conserved from flies to humans and inhibit transcription. One hypothesis for PRC1 mechanism is that it compacts chromatin, based in part on electron microscopy experiments demonstrating that Drosophila PRC1 compacts nucleosomal arrays. We show that this function is conserved between Drosophila and mouse PRC1 complexes and requires a region with an overrepresentation of basic amino acids. While the active region is found in the Posterior Sex Combs (PSC) subunit in Drosophila, it is unexpectedly found in a different PRC1 subunit, a Polycomb homolog called M33, in mice. We provide experimental support for the general importance of a charged region by predicting the compacting capability of PcG proteins from species other than Drosophila and mice and by testing several of these proteins using solution assays and microscopy. We infer that the ability of PcG proteins to compact chromatin in vitro can be predicted by the presence of domains of high positive charge and that PRC1 components from a variety of species conserve this highly charged region. This supports the hypothesis that compaction is a key aspect of PcG function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center