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J Biol Chem. 2013 Oct 25;288(43):30832-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.475996. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Histone H2A ubiquitination inhibits the enzymatic activity of H3 lysine 36 methyltransferases.

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From the College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875.


Histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27) methylation and H2A monoubiquitination (ubH2A) are two closely related histone modifications that regulate Polycomb silencing. Previous studies reported that H3K27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) rarely coexists with H3K36 di- or tri-methylation (H3K36me2/3) on the same histone H3 tails, which is partially controlled by the direct inhibition of the enzymatic activity of H3K27-specific methyltransferase PRC2. By contrast, H3K27 methylation does not affect the catalytic activity of H3K36-specific methyltransferases, suggesting other Polycomb mechanism(s) may negatively regulate the H3K36-specific methyltransferase(s). In this study, we established a simple protocol to purify milligram quantities of ubH2A from mammalian cells, which were used to reconstitute nucleosome substrates with fully ubiquitinated H2A. A number of histone methyltransferases were then tested on these nucleosome substrates. Notably, all of the H3K36-specific methyltransferases, including ASH1L, HYPB, NSD1, and NSD2 were inhibited by ubH2A, whereas the other histone methyltransferases, including PRC2, G9a, and Pr-Set7 were not affected by ubH2A. Together with previous reports, these findings collectively explain the mutual repulsion of H3K36me2/3 and Polycomb modifications.


Chromatin; Chromatin Histone Modification; Histone Methylation; Transcription Regulation; Ubiquitination

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