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Genes Dev. 2001 Dec 15;15(24):3286-95.

Histone H3 lysine 4 methylation is mediated by Set1 and required for cell growth and rDNA silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Histone methylation is known to be associated with both transcriptionally active and repressive chromatin states. Recent studies have identified SET domain-containing proteins such as SUV39H1 and Clr4 as mediators of H3 lysine 9 (Lys9) methylation and heterochromatin formation. Interestingly, H3 Lys9 methylation is not observed from bulk histones isolated from asynchronous populations of Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Tetrahymena thermophila. In contrast, H3 lysine 4 (Lys4) methylation is a predominant modification in these smaller eukaryotes. To identify the responsible methyltransferase(s) and to gain insight into the function of H3 Lys4 methylation, we have developed a histone H3 Lys4 methyl-specific antiserum. With this antiserum, we show that deletion of SET1, but not of other putative SET domain-containing genes, in S. cerevisiae, results in the complete abolishment of H3 Lys4 methylation in vivo. Furthermore, loss of H3 Lys4 methylation in a set1 Delta strain can be rescued by SET1. Analysis of histone H3 mutations at Lys4 revealed a slow-growth defect similar to a set1 Delta strain. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays show that H3 Lys4 methylation is present at the rDNA locus and that Set1-mediated H3 Lys4 methylation is required for repression of RNA polymerase II transcription within rDNA. Taken together, these data suggest that Set1-mediated H3 Lys4 methylation is required for normal cell growth and transcriptional silencing.

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